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A few summers ago, Stefano Piraino was walking along the rocky shoreline on a small island off the coast of Sicily when he spotted a washed up jellyfish. Naturally, he tore a piece off and popped it into his mouth.
"After a few days in that state they lose their stinging cells, and the UV radiation from the sun should have killed any bacteria," he said. "But still, I wouldn't recommend it."
Number - Researchers - Prof - Piraino - Biologist
Like an increasing number of researchers, Prof. Piraino, a biologist at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy, is interested in turning huge blooms of jellyfish from the unlikely menace they often are into something useful.
Food is top of his list—he says jellyfish can be healthy and delicious once cooked—though there are plenty of other ideas from medicines to nutraceuticals. To begin using these ethereal creatures for our own ends, however, Prof. Piraino and others want to first understand this: what exactly is in a jellyfish?
Transparent - Blobs - Name - Conjures - Fact
The transparent pulsating blobs that the name jellyfish conjures are in fact one stage of a complex lifecycle. This medusa phase produces eggs or sperm, which in turn develop into larvae and then a polyp, which attaches itself to underwater surfaces. Many polyps tend to produce new medusas at once, creating blooms of many thousands of individuals.
These blooms create some sticky situations. In 2007, a US aircraft carrier was partially disabled when jellyfish clogged the pipes that allow cooling water into its engines. Over one week in January, some 13,000 people were stung off Australia's Gold Coast.
Are - Blooms - Places - Adriatic - Sea
Are blooms becoming larger and more common? In some places, including the Adriatic Sea, we have good records suggesting that they are, though the evidence is not entirely clear cut because jellies are so hard to count. In other places, we have a paucity of data—so the overall global...
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