x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Book review: jellyfish finally get some respect

In Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, the researcher Lisa-ann Gershwin examines the implications of this aquatic population explosion.

Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

Lisa-ann Gershwin

University of Chicago Press


Compared to the charismatic megafauna of the oceans, jellyfish have never received the attention they deserve.

Lisa-ann Gershwin, the director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, wrote Stung! to help correct this, arguing that jellyfish are to the oceans what canaries are in a coal mine, except their indicator behaviour is to thrive when conditions are most dire. Accounts of the various jellyfish blooms across the globe, from polar waters to tropical seas, are used to illustrate just how much the ocean environments have changed, mostly to the detriment of marine biodiversity.

This genre of nature writing is highly frequented territory. But what makes Stung! stand out is that Gershwin achieves the rare combination of being not just a talented researcher who has discovered more than 160 new jellyfish species but also a very entertaining writer, turning what could have been a worthy but prosaic book into a page turner.