WALK OUT ONTO THE UGLY PIERS that line the proletarian bathing strands of Yalta and look into the water. You'll see them everywhere. Ubiquitous jellies of assorted shapes and sizes rising and falling in the rollers under the mountainous Crimean shores: undulating round jellyfish, ovoid comb jellies, finger-sized transparent creatures that feed on the specks of life that live in each drop of sea water.
Under your feet, bag-like comb jellies move about like automated vacuum cleaners eating anything in their path. There's one near the piling you're standing beside. It looks extraterrestrial, and it is in fact alien to the Black Sea. One end of the creature opens wide; its whole body convulses, refracting sunlight in a shimmering rainbow as it sucks everything in the vicinity into its formless insides. Larval clams, fish, and crabs, hapless juvenile moon jellyfish, and microscopic copepods--whole generations are falling before this endless alien herd.
You can see them from every pier and beach, each time you look over your ship's railing or wade in the murky surf. From the rainy shores of eastern Turkey to the dry headlands of Yalta you see them in countless multitudes, dotting the Black Sea like stars in the night sky.
They've grazed the sea nearly clean, these voracious comb jellies. Their numbers are unthinkably huge: a billion tons at last estimate, more than ten times the weight of all the fish landed by all the fishermen in the world in a year. In a few short years they've all but con