Jellyfish May Inherit the Earth

Mountain Culture® Trip Reports
November 3, 2017

I spent the past few months chasing ice from Greenland, across the Davis Strait to Baffin Island and down the Labrador Coast. I got a feel for how rapidly changing ice conditions are affecting both wildlife and people of the North. When I reached Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland, I got a treat I never expected.

Heading out on a Zodiac, I saw what looked like a shoal that did not appear on my GPS. As I got closer, I realized the shoal was moving! It was a massive bloom of perhaps millions of moon jellyfish.

Moon jellyfish bloom, Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland

These organisms thrive in the most challenging conditions, laughing at the very chaos we humans have brought on with global climate change. Jellyfish adapt and prosper in warming waters, as well as those waters with low oxygen content. They literally clone themselves asexually, making millions of copies that form massive blooms like this one. They have been on our planet for millions of years and may even outlast humanity as they inherit the earth.

The chance to dive within the bloom was both magical and thought-provoking. In a warming world, the ice is disappearing and blooms like this will be ever more common.

Jill Heinerth is a Canadian cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer and filmmaker. Many consider her the best female underwater explorer in the world, and she has dived in some of the most extreme locations on the planet, from underwater caves to icebergs in the frigid waters off Antarctica. She is currently chasing icebergs in the calving grounds off the coast of Greenland.