A jellyfish attack causes a Luzon-wide blackout

Jellyfish is not actually a fish but a soft-bodied, stinging sea animal. Well, I think, explanation about what jellyfish is is not needed anymore.

I was not yet living in Metro Manila that time, I can't even remember a news about. Well, you can't blame me why I don't know this though. I was still a playing toddler in those days with no interest on current events or anything that happens around me.

By the way, the event really happened. It is true that jellyfishes caused a massive black out in the Philippines. What brought it here is the rumors.

The Story

On the night of December 10, 1999, most of Luzon's lights went out, especially NCR (National Capital Region) or more commonly known as Metro Manila. Some 40 million people abruptly lost power. Malls full of Christmas shoppers plunged into darkness. Holiday parties ground to a halt. President Joseph Estrada, meeting with senators at the time, endured a tense ten minutes before a generator restored the lights, while the public remained in the dark until the cause of the crisis was announced, and dealt with, the next day.

The reason of the black out is a large number of jellyfish (50 truck loads of jellyfishes) which was sucked in a cooling pipes of a coal-fired power plant, causing a cascading power failure.

The Rumor

  • Rumor has it that the jellyfish were giant mutant ones. And according to one of our readers who claimed he himself saw the animals together with his sister, it is indeed giant jellyfish, but didn't mention they were mutants of course.

  • It was the height of President Joseph "Erap" Estrada's notoriety so a lot of people thought that another coup d' etat was brewing.

  • Some also thought it was the early manifestation of the Millenium (Y2K) Bug.

  • Sources:


    1. Totoo to, pwede talagang makasira sa power plants ang mga jellyfish na yan, pinag aralan namin yan sa Envi Engineering yan, tapos pinakita yung pic ng trucks ng jellyfish na hinahakot dun sa daluyan nung tubig galing sa planta. Ito yung dahilan ng blackout this year lang. Nga pala, Environmental Engineer talaga ang prof namin, very reliable.

    2. This is true. This was in Pangasinan as news explaining the massive blackout showing pictures of jellyfish taken out mass-load from by carts coming from the powerplant. Days after the event of the jellyfish attack, Luzon island experienced a slight tremor from an undersea earthquake miles from the shorelines of Pangasinan, explaining the irregular behavior of the swarm of jellyfish possibly initial tremors might have caused the jellyfish swarm to move from their natural habitat.

    3. Jellyfish are the main food of turtles, once common in Philippine waters. Massive over fishing and pollution has killed of the turtles. Incidentally, one main cause of turtle mortality is ingestion of plastic bags, there are tonnes of these floating around the coast. No turtles, more jellyfish. Clean up people! I would also suggest some more education is necessary, for instance the author of this article does not appear to possess any.

    4. This is true. I was a teenager then, visiting with my father to check out the power plant around 5 days before that blackout (it was a weekend). While my father was talking business, my sisters and I walked around the power plant. We could see a swarm of jellyfishes on the lake beside it. I mentioned to my sister how awesome they looked and my sister (who was very interested in animals then, she's a vet now) looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Those are giant jellyfishes. If they're as big as your palm at this height, they must be gigantic when you go down." I forgot about it when we left but a few days later, when the blackout happened, my father remarked, "Must be the jellyfishes. I told them they had to find a way to remove them."

      And when the news came on, we found out that it was true.

    5. I remembered that day. My sister was born on December 8, 1999. I was at an arcade with my older brother at the time when the power went out. The next thing I remembered me and my brother running towards a jeepney as we heard gun shots behind us. As we got on the jeepney there was a building on fire. We all thought it was a coup d'etat and seemed like it too... Me and my brother would never hear the story about the Jellyfish until March 1, 2015 while browsing through the internet. How interesting.


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