The day I hugged a jellyfish

How was your summer? Anything that particularly stands out for you? One day of my summer really does, and not for a good reason – it’s the day I hugged a jellyfish.

There I was, cooling off in the sea, exploring the reef below when suddenly I felt a shock run through my arm and down my side. The sudden jolt made me leap up in the water (shouting things I probably shouldn’t include in this post!)

I quickly turned towards the source of pain and came face-to-face with my attacker. A jellyfish, merrily swimming away like nothing had happened. It appears I’d been a little over friendly, giving it a full-on embrace, and now my arm was throbbing.

It turns out Jellyfish aren’t the huggy type.

I began the long swim back to shore to recover. (Just to answer the question in your head, the question that everyone asks and probably the reason you’re reading his: No one peed on me!)

So there I was, sat in 42° C heat in the south of France, with swollen stings on my arm and back. My summer adventure with friends had taken a turn for the worse. After hiking on the hottest day in August, we decided a swim to cool off was exactly what we needed. A hug with a jellyfish? Not so much.

But why am I telling you this? Other than my friends finding it quite funny, it’s a lighthearted tale that tells a bigger story.

The sting in the story

When I got home I discovered my encounter had a deeper meaning. Since 2004, the population of jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea has quadrupled. What was once a rare event has now become a more common risk.

This Jellyfish boom isn’t occurring naturally, it’s the result of things within our control. As we continue to farm tuna (a jellyfish predator) beyond any safe limit, warm the seas with climate change, and pollute them with chemical fertilisers from agriculture, jellyfish are thriving. The impact we’re having on our planet, and especially our oceans, is changing our climate, and so much more.

Our eco-systems and weather patterns are all out of balance and it’s never been more obvious

So this summer, you could say I was attacked by something other than a jellyfish. I became a victim of climate change. OK, that sounds super dramatic, I guess a sting on my side isn’t too bad.

But there are much bigger warning signs.  Just think; mudslides in Sierra Leone, flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and drought in East Africa. These are all huge signs that things are changing, and thousands of people are already real victims – the worst affected are those living in poverty without the resources to protect themselves from natural disasters or respond effectively.

It’s not too late to change the end of the story. Let’s commit to doing what we can to combat climate change. Whether that’s in the way we live, or what we talk about with friends. Let’s be praying for those most impacted by the huge floods around the world and get involved in being part of the solution.

Want to make a difference? How about not flying for a year, switching to renewable energy through Tearfund or trying to do a #zerowasteweekFor help on what to pray for sign up to our WhatsApp prayer alerts and read the stories from our prayer team.

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