Recently, jellyfish have found themselves in the news as causing quite a bit of havoc among the seas. Fishermen, tourists, and even some power station workers are finding themselves negatively affected by these slimy characters. The Environmental News Network, reported on such issues this week; yet, they went a little further and found a research group who has discovered, and is working on, helpful aspects drawn from the jellyfish’s biological properties.
The Trouble with Tentacles
“Jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species [and] consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens…” claims ENN. This is causing a damaging imbalance among the seas. By blocking up the systems of power stations using seawater, jellyfish are causing a bump in the road for productivity. Furthermore, “jellyfish have had a dramatic impact on the world fishing industry, snagging and blocking fishing nets with their massive size.” Not to mention, the danger for beach-goers risking being painfully stung. Most jellyfish just cause a lot of burning pain, however; in some species (like the ones off the Australian coast) some stings can be deadly. As may be obvious, an overpopulation of jellyfish may not be the best for human population.
The Grass Gets Greener
Professor Shahar Richter and his research team at Tel Aviv University have been researching these menacing creatures. “They have 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.”
Being made up of many of the same materials as humans (water, collagen, and mucin), jellyfish can easily be used for more natural products for us.
“Ninety percent (90%) of [jellyfish] are made of water; the remaining substance consists of two proteins useful in the biotechnological industries – collagen (found in human skin) and mucin (found in mucous tissues). The team developed methods to turn this jellyfish “essence” into composite materials, adding nanoparticles with useful properties, like electrical conductivity, anti-bacterial materials, medicines, and glowing substances.”
The result of Professor Richter’s team’s work is a biological material that is perishable, will decompose, not pollute or cause environmental damage, and is all together a great new material for man-kind to use.
Moral of the story, when life gives you lemons make lemonade. Jellyfish are on the rise causing disturbances around the world, but let’s sustainably begin using them for medicinal properties. There is always a positive perspective that can be taken on what seems like a big problem. So make like a famous sea-sponge and go jelly fishing!
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