Overfishing, plastic pollution, warming temperatures and other impacts of human activities are changing the oceans — resulting in decreasing populations of everything from tuna to whales to dolphins. But humans are also causing one class of sea life to thrive: jellyfish.
“What we are doing as a normal part of being human — our waste and our coastal construction and our fishing and our carbon dioxide, all of these things — we are creating a world for jellyfish that they're loving,” says Australian–based biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin. “We are giving them the biggest break of their entire history.”
Gershwin has a rare passion for this stinging sea creature. She has personally identified 200 new species and is one of the foremost experts on these ancient, intriguing beings. For better or for worse, she says, humans have created the ideal circumstances for jellyfish to flourish.
“If you're an animal and every day is a struggle to find food, a struggle not to be someone else's food, a struggl