The Epidemic No One’s Talking About

For the last few months, the world has been watching the spread of the deadly coronavirus and lives have been upended in the uncertainty of its trajectory. Governments have been mobilizing their responses and businesses have shut down operations. And all the while there’s been another lethal and massive epidemic building. One that has largely escaped our attention. For the third time in the last five years, the Great Barrier Reef’s corals are predicted to undergo widespread bleaching. On February 16, NOAA’s coral reef watch system issued an alert level of 1, meaning significant bleaching was likely, for the northern and southern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, a region that spans 1400 miles, roughly the distance from Tijuana to Vancouver. Today, the alert has been raised to the highest level. NOAA’s map of the reef is slathered in blood-red. Severe bleaching and significant mortality […]

Continue reading

On Protocooperation

I’ve been getting Google alerts on the word “jellyfish” since 2010. For eight years a daily roundup of jellyfish news from across the web has been rolling across my inbox in the mid-afternoon. I’ve seen most of the stories several times. I’ve seen giant jellyfish drifting near video cameras on oilrig platforms that are mistaken for whale placentas. They turn out to be really strange and stunning jellyfish called Deepstaria. I’ve seen Michiganders and Missourians surprised August after August when the freshwater jellyfish Craspedacuspa pops into medusa form in nearby lakes. But back in July, I saw something I’d never seen before. In a video taken off the Italian island of Pantelleria half way between Sicily and Tunisia, the camera pans in on a vertical field of dandelion yellow cup corals on a rocky green wall. The corals have long, eyelashes of tentacles that sway gracefully […]

Continue reading