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

JPF: Jellyfish Protection Factor

Although I have been working on Spineless for four years, I never really had a meaningful jellyfish sting. This was something that I felt weirdly ashamed of, especially when so many people I talk to about jellyfish tell me of their blistering run-ins and my daily Google newsfeed on jellyfish often brings me disturbing sting stories. How could I write authoritatively about stings having never had one? But this summer swimming in a huge bloom of nomadic jellies in Haifa, I was slashed by tentacles a couple times. It felt like slaps of hot oil. Lucky, the pain only lasted a couple hours. After a day, the marks were gone. Given how common they are, it’s pretty amazing that there’s no medical consensus on how to treat jellyfish stings. In large part that’s because there are thousands of jellyfish species swimming in the seas, and each with its own complement of stinging cells and toxins. Despite the Friend’s episode where […]

Continue reading

Who’s Been Naughty?

Last week, the mauve stinger, Pelagia noctiluca, which has terrorized beaches in the Mediterranean for years, swarmed into a salmon farm, Loch Duart, off the Scottish coast. The berry-sized jellies slipped through the nets that hold the salmon and lodged themselves in the gills of the fish. Loch Duart is located on one of the oldest aquaculture sites in Scotland, and it’s committed to sustainable farming. It has nine sites, but only farms six at a time. The other three remain fallow, a practice also encouraged by sustainable land-based farming. On land, fallowing gives the environment a chance to return to its natural condition, and in the sea it does too. Importantly, fallowing in the ocean cuts down on the populations of sea lice that infest salmon kept together in pens. These parasites latch on to the skin of the fish, opening them up to infection. Hoping to keep sea lice levels […]

Continue reading