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Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Juli Berwald

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Black Inc
03 May 2018
Mathematics & Sciences; Popular science; Marine biology; Molluscs
Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three minutes. Their sting-microscopic spears that pierce with five million times the acceleration of gravity-is the fastest known motion in the animal kingdom. Made of roughly 95 percent water, some jellies are barely perceptible virtuosos of disguise, while others glow with a luminescence that has revolutionized biotechnology. Yet until recently, jellyfish were largely ignored by science, and they remain among the most poorly understood of ocean dwellers.

More than a decade ago, Juli Berwald left a carer in ocean science to raise a family in landlocked Austin Texas, but jellyfish drew her back to the sea. Recent, massive blooms of billions of jellyfish have clogged power plants, decimated fisheries, and caused millions of dollars of damage. Driven by questions about how overfishing, coastal development, and climate change were contributing to a jellyfish population explosion, Juli embarked on a scientific odyssey. She travelled the globe to meet the biologist who devote their careers to jellies, hitched rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild, raised jellyfish in her dining room, and throughout it all marvelled at the complexity of these alluring and ominous biological wonders.

Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless is the story of how Juli learned to navigate and ultimately embrace her ambition, her curiosity, and her passion for the natural world. She discovers that jellyfish science is more that just a quest for answers. It's a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share.
By:   Juli Berwald
Imprint:   Black Inc
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 151mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   465g
ISBN:   9781760640583
ISBN 10:   1760640581
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   03 May 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Juli Berwald received her PhD in ocean science from the University of Southern California. A science textbook writer and editor, she has contributed to many science textbooks and written for The New York Times, Nature, National Geographic, and Slate, among other publications. She lives in Austin with her husband and their son and daughter.

Reviews for Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Captivating and informative. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) More than a mere look at jellyfish... [Spineless] provides plenty of food for thought for those seeking to make different choices in their treatment of the environment and in their own lives. --Library Journal Spineless is as mesmerizing, surprising, and beautiful as the jellyfish itself. Every page contains some astonishing treasure. If you cherish the sea, if you care about the environment, if you relish life on this sweet, blue planet, you will love this book. --Sy Montgomery, New York Times-bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus--Sy Montgomery In this astonishing adventure of a book, Juli Berwald takes us on a personal journey into the enchanting and mystifying aqueous world of jellyfish, and in so doing, sheds light on the vital ecological balances upon which our own survival depends. --Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being--Ruth Ozeki In this lovely exploration of the mysterious jellyfish, Berwald both entrances and sounds a warning: pay attention to the messages sent by ocean life, and act to protect their environment, and ours. --Kirkus Reviews With lucid, gorgeous, arresting language, Juli Berwald opens a rare window on the adventures of scientists at work, capturing the fabulously ingenious ways they make sense of our world. Spineless will leave you awestruck, revering the ever-more fragile brilliance of life on Earth. --Miriam Horn, author of Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman --Miriam Horn She swam with jellies, watched how quickly they disintegrate in fishers' nets, ate them in Japan, and kept them in a home aquarium, and as she revels in these spineless animals, she teaches us to delight in them, too. --Booklist Like Bernd Heinrich, Juli Berwald illuminates an entire ecosystem through the lens of one remarkable group of creatures. I learned something from every page, not only about jellyfish but about the crucial role of marine scientists and their studies. --Andrea Barrett, author of Archangel and The Voyage of the Narwhal--Andrea Barrett Fascinating... Readers can't help but be swept away with enthusiasm... Full of humor and intrigue, Spineless is a seaworthy saga brimming with information about not only jellyfish but also about the health and future of the oceans and our planet. --BookPage Spineless explores not only jellies' suffering ecoysystem and our responsibility to the planet but also how Berwald strengthened her own backbond. --Real Simple--Real Simple In this memoir/science-reporting mash-up, [Berwald] profiles one of the ocean's most intriguing creatures--the unique contractions it uses to propel through water, its acidifying habitat and its booming populations. --Scientific American


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