Ocean Acidification Has A Perk: It Curbs Dangerous Jellyfish
A Griffith Univ. led study has made the surprising discovery that ocean acidification may provide some protection for South East Queenslanders from the Irukandji jellyfish.
Researchers from Griffith Univ.’s Australian Rivers Institute have conducted a series of climate change simulation experiments to investigate whether the dangerous tropical jellyfish, the Irukandji, is likely to establish breeding populations in the South East. It was found that, while higher sea temperatures could provide an opportunity for adult Irukandji to expand their range south, increasing ocean acidification may inhibit the development of juveniles.
It wasn’t a tsunami but it had the same effect: a huge cluster of jellyfish forced one of the world’s largest nuclear reactors to shut down — a phenomenon that marine biologists say could become more common.
Operators of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden had to scramble reactor number three after tons of jellyfish clogged the pipes that bring in cool water to the plant’s turbines. It took workers over two day to clean the pipes of the jellyfish and engineers are preparing to restart the reactor, which at 1,400 megawatts of output is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, says Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for OKG, the plant operator.
Bioengineered Jellyfish is Made of Silicone, Heart Muscle
Using recent advances in marine biomechanics, materials science and tissue engineering, a team of researchers at Harvard Univ. and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have turned inanimate silicone and living cardiac muscle cells into a freely swimming “jellyfish.”
The finding serves as a proof of concept for reverse engineering a variety of muscular organs and simple life forms. It also suggests a broader definition of what counts as synthetic life in an emerging field that has primarily focused on replicating life’s building blocks.
Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers are working on a multi-university, nationwide project for the U.S. Navy that one day will put life-like autonomous robot jellyfish in waters around the world.
The main focus of the program is to understand the fundamentals of propulsion mechanisms utilized by nature, says Shashank Priya, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech, and lead researcher on the project. Future uses of the robot jellyfish could include conducting military surveillance, cleaning oil spills and monitoring the environment.
The golden jelly (Mastigias papua etpisoni) lives in marine lakes in the southern Pacific, most famously Jellyfish Lake in Palau. In addition to obtaining nutrients from captured zooplankton, this jellyfish grows its own garden of photosynthetic microorganisms within its translucent tissues. | +