Gem of the Week: Understanding Jellyfish

Walkern/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkn/512848949/sizes/o/in/photostream/">Flickr</a>


Each week I highlight one Blue Marble-ish story I think covers an underreported issue, or reveals a new side of an old one. Here’s this week’s.

For many years jellyfish have been thought of as dumb, reflex-based creatures with no hunting strategy who simply drifted where the waves took them. This absorbing piece in the New York Times shows otherwise. Author Natalie Angier culls together new scientific reports with interviews and in-person experiences to explore the jellyfish’s true nature. Especially when paired with a beautifully-shot photo essay, it’s one of those articles that makes you feel like an awestruck kid at the science museum.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Jellyfish are one of the species that have survived mass extinctions, and they show no sign of slowing. Already adaptive and resourceful by nature, global warming has increased their spread. Jellies haven’t thrived as passive predators though: as Angier’s article details, jellies are actually quite complex. Example: the box jellyfish has 24 eyes, of 4 different types. Jellies have “salinity meters” and go out of their way to avoid fresher waters that come in the spring from melted snow. 

Jellyfish are pretty and elegant, so it’s nice to know there’s some brain behind that beauty, or at least a few “neuronal condensations” where nerves act as brain-like structures.

 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.