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Harvest from the sea, but diners harder to find now

Jellyfish Market Stung By Slipsliding Economy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Phuketwan finds something squishy: Photo Album


Public seminar on box jellyfish scheduled for April 4: details shortly

JELLYFISH are enjoying the seas off the Andaman coast much more this season. This would normally be a pleasing aberration for jellyfish seller Anon Lanpet, if not for too many other people.

But with prices of the Asian delicacy down to barely a quarter of previous seasons, the pudgy stingers are best left to drift, he says.

Khun Anon has been running his edible jellyfish export business for three years. Sales have been good.

But this year, with the world economy dipping downwards, orders from China, Korea, Malaysia, Japan have dropped, he says.

The slowdown in demand combined with an unusually high number of the lobonema smithii mayer 1910 jellyfish along the Andaman coast has caused prices to drop to 2.5 to 5 baht per jellyfish. Last year, each good-sized, squidgy edible jellie could fetch 10 to 13 baht.

Phuketwan caught up with Khun Anon in Klong Tom, Krabi, where he happened to be working.

But his operation is mobile, set up on beaches along the west coast provinces. He moves to where the jellies are most plentiful.

A jellyfish man from way back, he says there are not many people in the jellyfish business. It requires a substantial investment up-front.

Khun Anon has arrangements with buyers in China who give him an advance of 80,000-100,000 baht to buy jellyfish from the fishermen who catch them in nets thrown from their boats.

Each catch is hauled to shore and processed right on the beach. Each jellyfish is cut, cleaned and put in a sauce for seven days.

Then it is packaged and sent overseas. All of his sea-grown harvest is exported, he says.

Khun Anon hires temporary staff to prepare the jellyfish at the same beach where he buys them off the fishermen, paying 30 baht an hour.

Workers concentrating on jellyfish do the processing in eight-hour shifts.

Another kind of edible jellyfish, rhopilema hispidum vanhoffen 1888, is plentiful in the Andaman, too. But Khun Anon does not buy them because they are difficult to clean.

To prepare them for human consumption takes 15 hours; just not worth the effort at current price levels, he says.

Lobonema smithii mayer 1910 are known to deliver a powerful sting.

They are quite unlike the jellyfish that turned up in large numbers on Phuket's west coast in January, which have stings that are considered harmless.

A variety of jellyfish plus salps and comb jellies, creatures that look similar to jellyfish, have been spotted around Phi Phi and Raya islands, in the Phuket region, recently.

On Phuket, where research into the increasing sightings of jellyfish of all kinds is continuing, interest now centres on the three-day seminar from April 1 where some of the mysteries of the outbreaks should be explained.

Of greatest concern is the dangerous and potentially deadly box jellyfish, now identified as coming in three species, two of them at one particular bay on Phuket's east coast.

Australian delegates will join the seminar and report first-hand what steps can be taken to accurately assess the scale of the problem.

There is also a public seminar being planned for April 4, at Le Meridien Phuket, not far from Patong.

Meanwhile, Khun Anon is looking for alternative markets.

Phuketwan File on Jellyfish


Jellyfish Invade Phuket, Phi Phi: Help On The Way
Amazing Photos The box jellyfish is back in Phuket waters and experts are now determined to track its movements and its growth and habitat patterns. And there's a Phi Phi jellyfish outbreak.
Jellyfish Invade Phuket, Phi Phi: Help On The Way

Photo Albums from Patong, Nai Harn

Patong Jellyfish: Other Beaches Plagued, Too
Nai Harn/Patong Photo Album Reports are coming in of other beaches under siege from jellyfish. As marine biologists determine the species, Phuketwan readers report other infestations.
Patong Jellyfish: Other Beaches Plagued, Too

Yuk! Jellyfish Plague Invades Patong Beach
Jellyfish Album Patong beach is enduring an invasion of jellyfish of an undetermined kind, alarming some visitors and raising concerns about tourism and the environment of Phuket.
Yuk! Jellyfish Plague Invades Patong Beach

Box Jellyfish Photo Albums

Phuket Jellyfish Alert: The Biggest Test Yet?
Photo Album 'Sun, surf, sand ... but deadly jellyfish cast shadow on Phuket.' Hong Kong readers learn about Phuket's biological crisis.
Phuket Jellyfish Alert: The Biggest Test Yet?

Phuket Box Jellyfish: Are We In Danger?
Photo Album Virtually every day now, box jellyfish are being found at a spot not far from Phuket City as marine biologists puzzle over their unexpected presence. Should we be alarmed?
Phuket Box Jellyfish: Are We In Danger?

Phuketwan Box Jellyfish File

Phuket's Box Jellyfish: Out There Somewhere
Photo Special Phuketwan goes back to Nam Bor Bay, not far from Phuket City, where we saw our first box jellyfish last year. The ''boxies'' seem to have moved on. But where?
Phuket's Box Jellyfish: Out There Somewhere

Phuket Alert: Expert Guide to Jellyfish
The box jellyfish found in a Phuket bay have probably always been here, says an expert. She shatters some of the myths and offers hope for safety programs to prevent deaths and injuries.
Phuket Alert: Expert Guide to Jellyfish

Phuket Jellyfish Alert: No Cause For Panic
The Governor of Phuket hears a briefing on the Phuket box jellyfish alert and suggests continuing research, alerting people to the dangers and the treatment of stings, and avoiding panic
Phuket Box Jellyfish:'No Cause For Panic'

Phuket Box Jellyfish: Biologist Sounds Alert
Phuket's Marine Biological Centre has issued an alert over the presence of box jellyfish in waters off Krabi and Phuket. Scientists are continuing to try to define more clearly the dangers, without unnecessary alarm.
Phuket Box Jellyfish: Biologist Sounds Alert

Box Jellyfish Found Off Phuket: Death in Krabi
The death of a tourist off Krabi and the discovery of a non-fatal form of box jellyfish off Phuket bring a call for help - and a claim that many more deaths go unrecorded.
Box Jellyfish Found Off Phuket: Death in Krabi

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