Tag Archives | Jellyfish

All About Your Awesome And Terrifying Friend The Jellyfish

Pic: Haeckel (PD)

Pic: Haeckel (PD)

I’ve had a hell of a holiday: I had to have our beloved dog put to sleep on Christmas Eve, and then we had a car breakdown on Christmas Day. While I hope that your holidays were better (and continue to be – we’ve still got New Year’s), I myself can’t put enough distance between me and the old Yuletide Spirit.

On to better things, like the Lovecraftian, stinging bag of venomous goo that we know as the Jellyfish.

Popular Science offers a number of interesting facts about the creatures, including that they’re overpopulating their ecosystems, shutting down nuclear reactors and kill dozens of people every year with their toxic stingers.

Check it out here.

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We Are All Jellyfish

A breath of life into the dust or a more mucosal event, perhaps Atum in his primordial sea or the operculum of Aphrodite?

Pic: Dan90266 (CC)

Pic: Dan90266 (CC)

The earliest emergence of animal form is being reordered by recent genome sequencing.

Previous classification of sponges as the primogenitor of animal life is now challenged by the ctenophores or comb jellies.  The ancestral march of earlier eucaryote forms, stabilizing as Flagellates, Slime Molds and Ciliates becomes Animal with the acquisition of characteristic structural symmetries, muscle cells, nerve nets and sensory organs.

Comb jellies (though not true jellyfish) appear little more than a blob of slime when subjected to terrestrial conditions.  In the buoyancy of water their apparent formlessness unfurls into an invaginated opalescence of light diffracting cilia and bioluminescence.  They are predatory, some using their flagella as hunting nets or secreting secreting adhesives to capture prey.  Just as nudibranchs some are able to incorporate stinging cells consumed from prey into their tentacles.

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Jellyfish Cause Shutdown At Massive Swedish Nuclear Power Plant

jelly

The New York Times reports on how the world ends:

In an episode that evokes B-grade sci-fi movie plots, but actually reflects a continuing global problem, nuclear engineers in Sweden have been wrestling with a giant swarm of jellyfish that forced the shutdown of the world’s largest boiling-water reactor.

The plant’s operator said that a huge cluster of moon jellyfish clogged the cooling water intake pipes at the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant on the Baltic Sea coast, forcing the complex’s 1,400-megawatt Unit 3 to shut down.

Nuclear power plants are often placed next to large bodies of water, so jellyfish clogs are a recurring problem. The plant had a similar episode in 2005.

The Oskarshamn nuclear power plant uses the same technology employed at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, where a powerful earthquake and tsunami in 2011 caused the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

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Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?

PSM V33 D765 TurritopsisSo there might just be something positive to say about jellyfish after all. Nathaniel reports for the New York Times:

After more than 4,000 years — almost since the dawn of recorded time, when Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh that the secret to immortality lay in a coral found on the ocean floor — man finally discovered eternal life in 1988. He found it, in fact, on the ocean floor. The discovery was made unwittingly by Christian Sommer, a German marine-biology student in his early 20s. He was spending the summer in Rapallo, a small city on the Italian Riviera, where exactly one century earlier Friedrich Nietzsche conceived “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”: “Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again. . . .”

Sommer was conducting research on hydrozoans, small invertebrates that, depending on their stage in the life cycle, resemble either a jellyfish or a soft coral.

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Meet the JellyRat

Scientists at Cambridge University have reverse engineered a jellyfish from silicon and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The JellyRat is identical to the moon jellyfish, a common species found throughout the world’s oceans. Project leader Kit Parker has dubbed the artificial lifeform a “medusoid” and doesn’t plan on stopping with just jellyfish. He hopes to create an octopus next.

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As Fish Die Off, Jellyfish To Dominate Earth’s Oceans

Nomura-jellyfish-2Around the globe, fish populations are declining while the number of jellyfish is exploding. Climate change may be “turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago, when the ancestors of jellyfish ruled the seas,” writes Yale Environment 360. Bow down to our future gelatinous overlords:

The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.

The Nomura’s jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It’s the size of a refrigerator and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan.

Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.

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Jellyfish ‘Smoothie’ Could Have Solar Solutions

Barry Neild at CNN reports:

Putting thousands of jellyfish in a blender to make a smoothie sounds like the start of bad joke. In fact, it’s one way to source ingredients for a new generation of solar power solutions that could aid medical science and offer cheap energy.

Scientists say by liquidizing the humble Aequorea victoria — a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish commonly found off the western coast of North America — they can use the green fluorescent protein (GFP) it contains to create miniature fuel cells.

These, say their creators, could be used to power microscopic “nanodevices” that could operate independently inside the human body, helping reverse blindness or fight tumors.

Nanotechnology — the manipulation of matter at an atomic scale (one nanometer is equivalent to one billionth of a meter) — is seen by many as the future of medicine, but the science of powering nano-machinery is still in its infancy.

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The World’s Only Immortal Animal

Bryan Nelson of the Mother Nature Network writes via Yahoo Green:

The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.

Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).

The key lies in a process called transdifferentiation, where one type of cell is transformed into another type of cell. Some animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation and regenerate organs, such as salamanders, which can regrow limbs. Turritopsi nutricula, on the other hand, can regenerate its entire body over and over again. Researchers are studying the jellyfish to discover how it is able to reverse its aging process.

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Attack of the Giant Jellyfish

From MICHAEL CASEY, AP

“KOKONOGI, Japan — A blood-orange blob the size of a small refrigerator emerged from the dark waters, its venomous tentacles trapped in a fishing net. Within minutes, hundreds more were being hauled up, a pulsating mass crowding out the catch of mackerel and sea bass.

The fishermen leaned into the nets, grunting and grumbling as they tossed the translucent jellyfish back into the bay, giants weighing up to 200 kilograms (450 pounds), marine invaders that are putting the men’s livelihoods at risk.

The venom of the Nomura, the world’s largest jellyfish, a creature up to 2 meters (6 feet) in diameter, can ruin a whole day’s catch by tainting or killing fish stung when ensnared with them in the maze of nets here in northwest Japan’s Wakasa Bay.

“Some fishermen have just stopped fishing,” said Taiichiro Hamano, 67. “When you pull in the nets and see jellyfish, you get depressed.”

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