the Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone
by Juli Berwald
I finished this one several days ago, but didn\’t have time to sit and write. It\’s one of those amazing books that I read slowly on purpose, in order to drag it out longer. Every chapter it seemed, was filled with stuff that astonished me. I didn\’t realize how little I knew about jellyfish before! The author is, quite simply, a woman who became enthralled with jellyfish. She read about them, watched documentaries, traveled to visit scientists who studied them and fishermen who caught them. She kept some in a special tank in her living room, and several times ate jellyfish- once cooking it herself. She took her family on detours during vacations to visit beaches where jellyfish had been sighted. And more. The details are mind-boggling. Jellyfish have a very complex and curious life cycle- and one species at least, is known to reverse the process. The way they physically move through the water is intriguing- so different from how we do that it\’s hard to understand. They can be incredibly fragile- literally dissolving away once in open air- and yet jellyfish blooms- when certain populations suddenly reach staggering numbers- can dramatically change local oceanic ecosystems, causing fish numbers to crash. Then there\’s the jellyfish toxins- their sting can be mildly irritating, or deadly. Jellyfish stinging cells move faster than anything– even the mantis shrimp, whose strike is so fast it literally makes the water boil. I\’m boggled. I was also blown away by the verve the author had to follow her growing passion- she had a job in a different field, an everyday family life with kids- yet sought out people and events revolving around jellyfish, even sitting down at conferences about them. There\’s a lot in here not only about the physiology and mystery of jellyfish (so much we still don\’t know), but also what jellyfish indicate about ocean conditions, which throws light on what we are doing to the ecosystem. It\’s a book I\’m very glad to have read, which has fired my mind with so many questions and curiosity for more.
My father gave this book to me.
Rating: 4/5 336 pages, 2017