Science vs. the Jellyfish! (Hint: the Jellyfish Are Winning)

black and white photo of a jellyfish
Photo by Bryan Jones (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Jellyfish: we can’t predict where and when they’ll appear, we can’t anticipate where they’ll go, they can shut down an aircraft carrier, and we can’t figure how how to reduce their population. Tamar Stelling, in the Correspondent, looks at these amazingly resilient sacks of goo.

“Fight jellyfish?” Boero says when I speak with him on Skype. “Forget it.” Any tactic you’d use to combat any other plague is useless against jellyfish. Pesticides don’t affect them. Many species don’t actively swim in any particular direction, so you can’t chase them away. Electrocution doesn’t work. Acoustic shocks? Nope: with no brain or ears, a jellyfish has no notion of sound. “Jellyfish shredders, hormones – you’re just treating the symptoms,” Boero says.

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