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

Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean [Kindle Edition]

Lisa-ann Gershwin , Sylvia Earle
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Read this book! You know that the oceans are in trouble, but this is the most comprehensive and clear explanation of why. Stung! is more than just a book about jellyfish; it is undoubtedly one of the best books detailing the stresses on our ocean ecosystems. It is a much-needed and spectacular achievement." -Paul Dayton, Scripps Institution of Oceanography"

Product Description

Our oceans are becoming increasingly inhospitable to life—growing toxicity and rising temperatures coupled with overfishing have led many marine species to the brink of collapse. And yet there is one creature that is thriving in this seasick environment: the beautiful, dangerous, and now incredibly numerous jellyfish. As foremost jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin describes in Stung!, the jellyfish population bloom is highly indicative of the tragic state of the world’s ocean waters, while also revealing the incredible tenacity of these remarkable creatures.
Recent documentaries about swarms of giant jellyfish invading Japanese fishing grounds and summertime headlines about armadas of stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean and Chesapeake are only the beginning—jellyfish are truly taking over the oceans. Despite their often dazzling appearance, jellyfish are simple creatures with simple needs: namely, fewer predators and competitors, warmer waters to encourage rapid growth, and more places for their larvae to settle and grow. In general, oceans that are less favorable to fish are more favorable to jellyfish, and these are the very conditions that we are creating through mechanized trawling, habitat degradation, coastal construction, pollution, and climate change.
Despite their role as harbingers of marine destruction, jellyfish are truly enthralling creatures in their own right, and in Stung!, Gershwin tells stories of jellyfish both attractive and deadly while illuminating many interesting and unusual facts about their behaviors and environmental adaptations. She takes readers back to the Proterozoic era, when jellyfish were the top predator in the marine ecosystem—at a time when there were no fish, no mammals, and no turtles; and she explores the role jellies have as middlemen of destruction, moving swiftly into vulnerable ecosystems. The story of the jellyfish, as Gershwin makes clear, is also the story of the world’s oceans, and Stung! provides a unique and urgent look at their inseparable histories—and future.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stung 31 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
brilliant! a must. eminently readable. if this doesn't open your eyes to what we're doing to the ocean nothing will. i found myself growing more and more fascinated with the alien world of jellyfish- and what their increasing impact on the world of humans forbodes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this. 16 Dec 2013
By firouz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Though I have not yet finished reading this book I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to receive the serious message it is making (and even those who don't). The author presents her case in language that is accessable considering that she is reporting a scientific study and does this with humour. I have heard the author inteviewed on radio and she made me laugh aloud without detracting from the message she is sending. I have to say that she has made me regard Jellyfish with awe and trepidation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lots of very interesting facts but also references to scientific papers and studies.
Great way to learn about those beasties with scientific evidence, but without all the boring aspects of scientific reports!
Style of writing is funny and not too complicated so anyone can read it really.
I haven't finished yet but i'm truly enjoying it so far.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars accessible science -chilling conclusions 21 Aug 2013
By marion rose - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is written with the non-expert reader in mind.There is tons of hardcore scientific data, spiced up with anecdotes and and enlivened by the writer's chatty, almost breezy, style. I found my attitudes to human exploitation of the sea irrevocably changed.
The conclusion is chilling and galvanising.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely relevant perspective on our adverse impact upon our oceans and its consequences 23 May 2013
By moto-dude - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found "STUNG!" to be fascinating, informative and, frankly, very sobering (the latter is no reflection on my review; it's the reality of our environment and ecosystems, as I concluded from Dr. Greshwin's book). Before reading this book, I did not fully appreciate the magnitude of the adverse impact that humankind has had, and, unfortunately, continues to have, on our precious oceans and its diverse marine life. I also did not appreciate that jellyfish, in their ever-growing numbers, results in a significant imbalance of the ecosystem; and, that one can view the presence of overabundant jellyfish blooms as an equivalent litmus test on the state of our oceans and, in fact, the future of life on our planet. Over the years, I have read books on this general topic by well-known and distinguished researchers, such as Stanford's Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb," and Caltech's Professor David L. Goodstein's "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil." Dr. Gershwin's book complements these works and provides a provocative and scholarly perspective on this important topic, and in fact, emerges as a very intuitive one, in terms of how we are destroying our wonderful planet. In particular, the focus is on our oceans in general, and, more specifically, on jellyfish and their blooms. Gershwin also considers the complex interrelationships of our terrestrial shortcomings (overconsumption, pollution, etc.) with those in our oceans (acidity, oxygen levels, overfishing, non-biodegradable plastics, etc.), which are manifested by changes in global temperature, atmospheric composition, etc. In essence, we are participants in an on-going laboratory experiment gone awry, owing to our reluctance to accept responsibility for our actions on the environment and ecosystems and to act accordingly. Over the course of our presence on Earth, humankind has been globally burying its collective head in the sands of our beaches instead of looking at our seas to realize the detrimental effects that we are imposing on all life forms, including ourselves. Sadly, our inactions have, over time, as Gershwin concludes, appear now to be irreversible and, presumably, past the tipping point, vis-a-vis the health and sustainability of our planet. Our only hope is, in the words of Gershwin, "to adapt." Dr. Gershwin's book is very readable, understandable and factual. It is peppered with myriad references (including many from scholarly, archival journals), along with a variety of interesting and informative quotes from experts on the field, sidebars (including simple kitchen experiments and refresher notes on relevant chemistry), tables, and a glossary. The level of discussion is ideally suited for the general public, students at all levels, the layperson as well as experts in the field. This comprehensive and extremely relevant treatment is a must-have for all to read, regardless of where one may reside on the spectrum of anthropic philosophy.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it 24 Jun 2013
By Mark - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Doom, statistics, science. Boring right? WRONG!

Gershwin manages to take some of the worst of humanities news and the science behind it and package it in such a way that it is not just an informative and educational read, but an entertaining one. Clearly written as a warning, this book gives the human influenced global climate change a whole new perspective. That from the view of the lowly and apparently robust Jelly. A beautiful ethereal creature who has been generous enough to warn us of our impending doom.

A must read for everyone and a great book for high school bio students. This book is excellent at showing the interlinked relationship between all of natures animals, including humans. With more easily digested and actually entertaining reads of such matter hopefully human understanding will give our future generations an actual future.

Please translate this book soon and get it to the rest of the world!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone should read. Sadly, few will make the effort. 20 Oct 2013
By Paul D. Kinslow - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The depth of research and experience behind this work is genuinely impressive and it flows better than most novels. It is, however, not a book to be read for mere entertainment. Stung, is basically a horror story but unlike typical efforts in the genre, it carries with it the weight of solid science and verifiable observation. From an unexpected angle, it makes visible the consequences of our ongoing pillage of the oceans, the realm on which all life ultimately depends and points out that evolutionary success is not necessarily defined by humanity and that, rather than the meek, the not so simple jellyfish may inherit the earth.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More People should read this book 17 Oct 2013
By bill gonch - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Lisa=Ann Gershwin's Stung! I have to admit that I found the experience deeply upsetting. I suspect that Gershwin also found the experience of researching and writing it extremely upsetting.

Nearly my entire life, I have lived somewhere near an ocean. Until I read Stung! I found jellyfishes always annoying and occasionally a threat (currently living in Australia we have a few than can kill you pretty quickly). Most of the time, jellyfish were things just not something I thought about very much. Gershwin helped me understand that jellyfish are both a significant problem in themselves (they have been known to capsize boats and to shut down power plants), but also a sign of fundamental problems in the oceans around us. Gershwin does a great job covering a great deal of science for the non-scientist in a clear manner. I have to differ with one of the previous reviewers (Emillie) who criticized the writing style. With all respect, Gershwin deals with a very complex webs of interacting causes and effects. I found it hard going in some places, but the writing is well done.

As an example, Gershwin shows that the global rise of jellyfish is related to carbon release (both global warming and acidification of oceans), pollution (both toxins and eutrophication, or excessive nutrients mainly from agriculture, sewage and aquaculture), introduced species (largely from shipping and bilge water), hypoxia and anoxia (lack of oxygen), and overfishing. All of these interact with each other. The story gets complex. While some of this may be hard to wade through, the treatment is well done.

From a carbon perspective, Gershwin shows jellyfish are both a symptom (they evolved about 650 million years ago when there was much less free oxygen and can survive where others cannot) and a cause (this slime based life form can make a significant contribution to global warming all by itself.

Gershwin's position is that we have set off an ecological perfect storm. We may have shifted the ocean from a high energy food chain (that gives top predators like tuna and salmon), to a low energy food chain (with jellyfish as the top predator. This is scary.

Gershwin has no answers. We may have already tipped things too far. I really hope she is wrong, but I can find no flaw in her argument.
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