Jellified oceans

Megan Lynn Mullins, Feature Writer

Jellyfish blooms are appearing in large numbers washed up on beach shores, power stations are having serious difficulties, and call-ins of jellyfish invading the tropical ocean waters are becoming more prominent. All of these issues are due to recent increase in jelly populations, although the populations of the jellyfish tend to fluctuate dramatically, rising and falling over decades. Junior Nathan Jones touched on the issue saying: “I do not feel that jellyfish overpopulation is a true issue, and I think that it may be nature simply running its course.”  

Jellyfish move in large groups known as “fluthers.” These are what most studies are based on, but some recent development have shown that, not only have the fluthers increased in size, but the number of fluthers has grown. The studies and developments made are “not the most well- founded,” as said by BBC news source Marina Sanz-Martín from the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain. The issues associated with these papers and pieces of scientific research happen to fall their many citation mistakes and a “tendency for nuanced language.”

One scientist whose work dramatically stood out when it came to the confusion was BBC news source Claudia Mills. Mills is an independent scientist affiliated with the University of Washington who wrote a paper in 2001 that made a large impact on the study of jellyfish biology. In the paper, she did not simply answer the question of jellyfish overpopulation with a simple  “yes” or “no,” but, instead, posed the question for people to determine their own answer. Mills said, “It did not occur to me that by posing it as a question, and inviting people to make their own conclusions, that they would not read it carefully.” Many other researchers have based their papers and cited this confusing paper by Mills, and that is where the controversy of the oceans becoming jellified erupted. Mills said, “I seemed to have started this rumor that went completely out of control. I am really kind of horrified that it probably took me most of a year to write that paper, and it was pretty nuanced. To see that no one probably even bothered to read it is really amazing.” She calls these sloppy citation practices “irresponsible”.

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