As well as being amazing marvels of nature, the gelatinous sea creatures are harbingers of the most serious issues that face us and this should be a call to arms
Looking back, I see that jellyfish came to me when the haze of sleepless nights brought on by kids’ cries and the frenzy of cramming a working day into the scant hours of pre-school began to lift. And, even though I still looked good on Facebook, when I slowed down long enough to think, I felt lost and unfulfilled. That something inside had been waiting for the opportunity to climb out and look for more than flapjacks and yogurt wasn’t so surprising. That it was jellyfish certainly was.
As an ocean scientist-turned-science writer, I was working on a piece for National Geographic about ocean acidification, sometimes called global warming’s evil twin. This happens when carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels mixes with water, making it more acidic, and harder to build shells in. And lots of marine creatures build shells. This story included a quintessential National Geographic graphic called “Winners and Losers”. On the losers’ side were shelled animals: coral, crabs, starfish. That made sense. On the winners’ side were shell-less things: algae, sponges and jellyfish. Jellyfish? What was their protection against acidic surroundings?