- 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
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,428,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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(Sylvia Earle, from the Foreword)
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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.
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!
The writing is excellent, which is necessary because unless one is a specialist in the life of the oceans, one's knowledge of jellyfish is limited to the few pages from biology class in high school and the news articles about jellyfish blooms and beach goers who experience jellyfish stings and red tides (Gershwin notes that only some of dangerous waters are red). From a public policy perspective Gershwin's explanation of interactions and net trends in ever increasingly acidic oceans supersaturated with carbon mean that the ideas of some physical scientists for using the oceans to "clean" coal and to dump nuclear waste simply do not work. Beyond its very interesting and gripping description of what is happening in the oceans, this book is a valuable contribution to the broader attempt to adapt and it covers the source of life in the great (but small in relation to human effects) oceans -- an area that virtually none of the energy and business interests understand.