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Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean Hardcover – May 7, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


“A comprehensive summary of the irresistible rise of an arguably unstoppable creature.”


“Gershwin is a scientist who can write.  She is a scientist, a conservationist, a public conscience, and a prophet.  ‘Prophet’ is a mantle which nobody dons willingly because part of the definition of 'prophet' is that nobody listens to the warning until it is too late. It is probably not too late yet.  So read Stung!. Then start making noise.”

“Vivid, lively, and enthralling! The world of jellyfish is brought alive as you never imagined it could be by Lisa-ann Gershwin in this engaging, gripping, and often funny book. Stung! is an enthusiastic guide to the extraordinary story of jellyfish, a group that dominated the world oceans of half a billion years ago, and in present form, may come to do so again if we don’t curb the rising tide of human damage to the sea.”
(Callum Roberts, author of The Ocean of Life)

“Reading this book should inspire heightened respect for these typically translucent creatures, some notable for their sophisticated stinging apparatus, some for their rainbow-colored bands of iridescent cilia, some for their ability to flash, sparkle or glow with their own living light—all, in a sense, ‘living fossils,’ considering their ancient lineage. . . . By picking out jellyfish and telling their stories, Lisa-ann Gershwin masterfully shows how they and we are hitched together—and to everything else in the universe.”

(Sylvia Earle, from the Foreword)

“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)

“This well-researched book is not just about jellyfish, but rather about the current and future state of the world’s oceans. Gershwin has done a superb job of summarizing all of the various indignities people have inflicted on the marine world, from pollution, overfishing, acidification, and invasive species, to the problem of eutrophication and dead zones. As she guides readers through the basics of jellyfish biology, she shows how the characteristics of these animals make them ideally suited to over stressed environments and gives examples of how they have already done just that.  . . . Highly recommended.”

“’Jellyfish populations are exploding into superabundances and exploiting these changes in ways that we could never have imagined… and in some cases driving them,’ explains biologist Gershwin in her brilliant book Stung!, a fascinating read.”

“The Australian jellyfish expert, Gershwin, tells the story of jellyfish and human plunder of the oceans in Stung!.Stung! evokes the danger of jellyfish blooms but, even more fundamentally, it is about the real stung effect of the collapsing oceans. Stung! is extremely important, well written and well documented.”
(Huffington Post)

"A serious monograph disguised as a monster movie."
(London Review of Books)

About the Author

Lisa-ann Gershwin is director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services. She was awarded a Fulbright in 1998 for her studies on jellyfish blooms and evolution, and she has discovered over 150 new species—including at least sixteen types of jellyfish that are highly dangerous, as well as a new species of dolphin—and has written for numerous scientific and popular publications.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022602010X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226020105
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By marion rose on August 21, 2013
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.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By moto-dude on May 23, 2013
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.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark on June 24, 2013
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!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bill gonch on October 16, 2013
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.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Sennett on September 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Once and while I get lucky and find a book that is compelling, hard to put down. Even though the topic of
Stung! can be complex, I keep reading because the author sets out the problems in the oceans that we have
created in a straight forward reading. Stung! is written by a scientist who is a teacher. Gershwin wants
the reader to get it, so she explains the ocean problems not only in detail, but all ways our oceans are
being assaulted by us, our industries and our lifestyles and the consequences of our behavior.
If you have any questions about why environmentalists are up in arms over oceans and the creatures that make
the ocean their home, read this book.
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