Turning Jellyfish into Sustainable Medical Products
In a United Nations report released in May, scientists worldwide were called upon to join the war on jellyfish. According to the report, jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species, consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens and creating what the report called a "vicious cycle." So how can this cycle be stopped?
In order to prevent imminent marine disaster, Prof. Shahar Richter and his research team at Tel Aviv University have been successful in converting the plethora of jellyfish for more useful purposes. They devised a method of turning jellyfish into a resource that could be used in the paramedical, hygiene and perishable-product industries for the creation of environmentally safe medical treatments, advanced bandages, and other plastic products.
The jellyfish's triple threat
According to another recent report, a bloom of jellyfish, spanning four square miles, devoured 100,000 salmon at a fish farm in Northern Ireland, causing damages of $1.5 million. And even though 450,000 tons of jellyfish are fished every year for the East Asian food industry, jellyfish consumption is far from effective in reducing or controlling the rapidly reproducing creatures’ population growth.
"Jellyfish cause damage in three major areas," Richter told the website Haaretz. "First, they clog up and paralyze atomic or electric power stations and desalination plants. In fact, they spell disaster for any facility that uses sea water. This happens in many places, including Korea, Japan, Sweden and India."
Second, jellyfish have had a dramatic impact on the world fishing industry, snagging and blocking fishing nets with their massive size. The third industry to come under jellyfish attack is tourism. While jellyfish on Mediterranean shores cause painful burning at worst, the species off Australia's shores are deadly, requiring the closure of beaches for extended periods.
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Jellyfish image via Shutterstock.