Invertebrate Intermission

It’s been a while since I posted here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with the jellies. Starting around Christmas, I went through an intense fact-checking/end-noting process with Spineless. I found that I could get through about a five pages a day–and the book is around 300 pages long. It was butt-in-the-chair, back-aching kind of work, rereading all the journal articles I’d used; relistening to all the interviews I’d recorded; pouring through my ugly handwritten notebooks; and double checking with experts. Thankfully, I had help. A fabulous jellyfish scientist I met along the way read the entire book and gave me corrections on the science side. And I hired an independent fact-checker to double check all my work. I also worked with some super talented copy editors at Riverhead Books who found a few errors that slipped through all of that. But, it’s all done! I’m expecting the galleys (a pre-print hard […]

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Healing Crystals

In the days following the election of Donald Trump I fell into a haze. I couldn’t focus on my work. Given the campaign trail rhetoric, the environmental regulations that I trust to keep my family and me healthy would certainly erode. Advances we’d made toward a future where our planet maintained a stable climate, the growth of alternative energy, and any progress toward a carbon policy and environmental protections could be swept away. * My childhood was permeated by my father’s obsession with rocks. Our vacations involved our family climbing into the Suburban and driving around the country knocking on the doors of farmers and ranchers and asking to dig on their land. We’d pay a few dollars to fill five gallon buckets with fossils or obsidian or banded agate. We’d then haul the stones from every corner of the continent back to our home in […]

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Groping for Hope?

  Last week I attended the SXSWeco conference in Austin and had the enormous pleasure of meeting, Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist whose mission is to connect people over solutions to climate change, one of the most polarizing issues in our country. There is no one more articulate at explaining why we all share the values needed to solve climate change. Oh, and she’s also an Evangelical Christian, which puts her in a very lonely place on the Venn diagram of the United States. Katharine is such a breath of fresh air during a tough season. From a Presidential election with too much talk about groping to more bombs in the Middle East and the horror of Hurricane Matthew, it’s been a cacophony of bad news lately. But just when it has all seemed too much, there, in the usually gloomy recesses of climate change news, Katharine pointed out that some truly wonderful stories […]

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Fried Eggs in Spain

Two weeks ago, I joined 220 scientists from every continent except Antarctica for five days of jam-packed gelatinous joy in Barcelona. The Jellyfish Blooms Symposium started fifteen years ago with just a few dozen or so scientists gathering in Alabama. But as many of the original conveners pointed out, both attendance and interest have bloomed over the years, not unlike the phenomenon which the meeting explores. There were so many outstanding talks and so many gems of information that I won’t be able to cram them all into my book so I’ll be covering as many of them here as I can. And to start, this blog is going to focus on just one species: the fried egg jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata), which I’m Vanna Whiting in the picture. The yolkish dome and whitish rim that make up its bell are the reason for the animal’s culinary name. And this colorful creature is common […]

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Bad-Ass Comb Jellies

Jellyfish biologists gathered at a meeting called Ctenopalooza in Florida a couple weeks ago, and dumped some big news on the jellyfish world. And in the words of my 11-year old daughter, it left me thinking, “What the poop?” Back when I first learned about comb jellies in the 80’s they were lumped together with your standard jellyfish in a big group called the coelenterates, which roughly translates to hole inside. Both these types of animals were thought to have a single hole to their bellies, which they used to bring food in and excrete waste out. Through the years, comb jellies were cleanly severed from jellyfish on the tree of life for lots of reasons. Their microscopic weaponry is really different. Their reproduction is different. Their muscle and nervous systems are very different. Their DNA is dissimilar. And their digestion is too. As reported in Science, at Ctenopalooza researcher William Browne of the University of […]

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Google Glory: Part II

And today the spin-offs arrived!   I’m super happy that the Daily Mail and Sky News went back to the original paper and picked up the amazing images that didn’t make the cut at Nat Geo’s graphics desk of moon jellyfish morphing back in their life cycle and becoming polyps. The news of moon jelly’s incredible ability to regenerate is spreading like, well, like moon jellies themselves!

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