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On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Our oceans are becoming increasingly inhospitable to life—growing toxicity and rising temperatures coupled with overfishing have led many marine species to the brink of collapse. And yet there is one creature that is thriving in this seasick environment: the beautiful, dangerous, and now incredibly numerous jellyfish. As foremost jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin describes in Stung!, the jellyfish population bloom is highly indicative of the tragic state of the world’s ocean waters, while also revealing the incredible tenacity of these remarkable creatures.

Recent documentaries about swarms of giant jellyfish invading Japanese fishing grounds and summertime headlines about armadas of stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean and Chesapeake are only the beginning—jellyfish are truly taking over the oceans. Despite their often dazzling appearance, jellyfish are simple creatures with simple needs: namely, fewer predators and competitors, warmer waters to encourage rapid growth, and more places for their larvae to settle and grow. In general, oceans that are less favorable to fish are more favorable to jellyfish, and these are the very conditions that we are creating through mechanized trawling, habitat degradation, coastal construction, pollution, and climate change.

Despite their role as harbingers of marine destruction, jellyfish are truly enthralling creatures in their own right, and in Stung!, Gershwin tells stories of jellyfish both attractive and deadly while illuminating many interesting and unusual facts about their behaviors and environmental adaptations. She takes readers back to the Proterozoic era, when jellyfish were the top predator in the marine ecosystem—at a time when there were no fish, no mammals, and no turtles; and she explores the role jellies have as middlemen of destruction, moving swiftly into vulnerable ecosystems. The story of the jellyfish, as Gershwin makes clear, is also the story of the world’s oceans, and Stung! provides a unique and urgent look at their inseparable histories—and future.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 15, 2013 – Gershwin, director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, examines the health of the oceans through the prism of jellyfish behavior. From Antarctica to the Norwegian fjords, jellyfish proliferation has resulted in the invasion of celebrated beaches and clogged fisheries, blooms that are both a symptom of troubled seas and a potential instigator of further trouble. Overfishing, climate change, agricultural runoff, and other pollutants have wreaked havoc on underwater ecosystems. Like weeds, jellyfish can grow anywhere and thrive in environments where the natural order has been disrupted, particularly in conditions of increased water temperatures and dwindling food supplies. At the risk of overstating her case, Gershwin reiterates the dangers our oceans face and that jellyfish are the new normal, providing ample evidence to support her claims. The book's tone can be heavily academic, though the acute scholarship is balanced by Gershwin's unadulterated passion for her material. Nevertheless, her conclusion is as bleak as the life beneath the water's surface has become: We cannot repair what's been done, and as it gets worse we must learn to adapt to the problems we've caused.
View in iTunes
  • $27.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Science & Nature
  • Published: May 07, 2013
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Seller: Chicago Distribution Center
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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