Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

That Time Jellyfish Swarmed an Israeli Power Plant

A swarm of giant jellyfish arrived at the Rutenberg power plant in Ashkelon Wednesday, which however was prepared with filters to keep the slimy sea creatures out of its cooling systems. The plant constantly cleared the filters from the animals, to keep the cooling systems and plant running.

“Our coal-fired power stations are located by the sea because it takes a lot of water to cool them down,” Israel Electric Corp spokeswoman Iris Ben-Shahal told Haaretz. “At that entry point of the water into the cooling systems, we have filters to keep foreign bodies out. The jellyfish, and other things like sea plants, stick to the filters and clog them.”

In previous years, jellyfish cleared from the filters were returned to the sea, or were buried in coordination with the Environment Ministry, she says. “They arrived yesterday but we’re always prepared,” she added.

Jellyfish are a real and possibly growing problem for power stations, notably nuclear ones that need vast amounts of water for cooling, and are therefore also conveniently built by the sea. Unfortunately, that leaves them vulnerable to sea-related problems, from jellyfish swarms, which are all but impossible to predict, to tsunamis.

So power stations do get knocked out by jellyfish, and that goes for the most sophisticated of the lot as well. In 2013, for instance, a vast cluster of the things forced Sweden’s giant nuclear plant Oskarshamn to shut down as tons entered and clogged the cooling pipelines. It took some time to clear the system. The year before a California plant in Diablo Canyon had to shut down for the same reason.

The arrival of the giant jellyfish swarms on Israel’s coasts sadly is in time for the school summer break. At least the jellyfish plaguing the local shores aren’t deadly or even particularly dangerous.

Last year the jellyfish plaguing Rutenberg were ctenophora, or comb jellies, Ben-Shahal says. The jellyfish that graced the Ashkelon power plant Wednesday were, according to the pictures, Rhopilema nomadic, which is indigenous to tropical warm waters of Indian and Pacific Oceans and is considered an invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea that became firmly established by the 1980s and has been stinging seagoing Israelis ever since. It largely displaced the incumbents, rhizostoma puimo, better known as frilly-mouthed or dustbin-lid jellyfish.

According to University of Haifa jellyfish expert Tamar Lotan, who previously spoke with Haaretz about the beautiful but unappreciated animals, their movements cannot be predicted – but at least the Israel Electric Corp apparently was prepared nonetheless, and Israelis were spared brown-outs that would have been caused by jellyfish, yet again, knocking out a power plant.

By the way, if you go to the beach in Israel and get stung by a jellyfish, do note that pouring vinegar on the welts will achieve precisely nothing. Nor is the rumor that urine alleviates jellyfish stings true.

For more stories, go to Haaretz.com or to subscribe to Haaretz, click here and use the following promotional code for Forward readers: FWD13.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.