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Jellyfish--menace to marine engines

Jan 1, 2003

It's not an unusual occurrence to have a plastic bag sucked into an engine's raw water intake, but who has had the thrill of sucking whole jellyfish into the cooling system?

Such were the joys recently aboard a Mobil tanker berthed in the Red Sea port of Massawa. The ship's chief engineer reported that he was having difficulty maintaining normal operating temperatures in the engines aboard the tanker Sachem since huge jellyfish were being continuously sucked into the intakes.The two-and-a-half-foot (diameter) jellies were apparently seeking shade from the oppressive midday heat by congregating around the vessel's hull, when they were suddenly slurped into the ship's giant through-hulls. Once enough of them collected in the strainers, the engines would overheat, according to crew reports."They hide from the sun under the ship. All it took was one in the sea strainers and that was it," the engineer wrote in an e-mail message to another engineer aboard a tanker approaching the Red Sea.

"As soon as a big pump went on, we dragged in a jelly and it was goodnight Vienna. Apparently the locals have never seen this before. The creatures appeared just after breakfast, played around with us all day and didn't clear off until 10 at night." Discharge operations were then possible only at night, the engineer said.


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