Boxed In A Changing World

Boxed In A Changing World

Allen Collins, curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and Evan Orellana of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, reported that the dreaded and extraordinarily venomous box jellyfish has started to appear in Florida in much greater numbers.

We’re seeing this happening everywhere all over the planet. Species ranges are changing because of human activities,” Collins says. “It’s another symptom of a changing world.”

Biology professor Vicki Martin of Appalachian State in North Carolina concurred, “As the waters off the eastern coast [of America] are warming, we are seeing more and more of these jellyfish.

The jellyfish have migrated from the Caribbean, riding currents that have changed over the past decade. The numbers of box jellyfish along the coast have skyrocketed over the last couple of years. They occur in blooms, to the point where entire fishing industries across the world have been destroyed by jellyfish. Beaches have been closed to swimmers along the east coast in past summers

With Penny Palfrey arriving this week in the Caribbean Sea for her upcoming Cuba to Florida swim, this explosion of box jellyfish in he southern, eastern and mid-Atlantic coasts of America may present a difficult obstacle to her 103-mile attempt. But the ocean is huge and if luck is on her side, she may never run into the debilitating creatures.

But the temporary pain of encountering jellyfish is still something that is far outweighed by the joy of swimming in the ocean.

The joy of open water swimming and the allure of the ocean is being explored this week at the BLUEMiND2 Conference” that is being held in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Cognitive neuroscientists, conservationists, ocean awareness advocates, swimmers and researchers are discussing the the relationship between the ocean and the human brain. What drives people to drive to the beach? Why do people feel so good as they jog along the seashore or gaze upon a sunrise or sunset?

Swimmers instinctively and intrinsically know the sensations they feel and the emotions that are generated with ocean swims. The joy is often indescribable but very real. The same joy that will come when Palfrey battles and overcomes the elements, distance and marine life across the 103-mile strait.

In a changing world, her joy will remain the same.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones