cover image Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

Lisa-ann Gershwin. Univ. of Chicago, $27.50 (384p) ISBN 978-0-22602-010-5

Gershwin, director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, examines the health of the oceans through the prism of jellyfish behavior. From Antarctica to the Norwegian fjords, jellyfish proliferation has resulted in the invasion of celebrated beaches and clogged fisheries, blooms that are both a symptom of troubled seas and a potential instigator of further trouble. Overfishing, climate change, agricultural runoff, and other pollutants have wreaked havoc on underwater ecosystems. Like weeds, jellyfish can grow anywhere and thrive in environments where the natural order has been disrupted, particularly in conditions of increased water temperatures and dwindling food supplies. At the risk of overstating her case, Gershwin reiterates the dangers our oceans face and that jellyfish are the new normal, providing ample evidence to support her claims. The book's tone can be heavily academic, though the acute scholarship is balanced by Gershwin's unadulterated passion for her material. Nevertheless, her conclusion is as bleak as the life beneath the water's surface has become: We cannot repair what's been done, and as it gets worse we must learn to adapt to the problems we've caused. (May)