Animals. Jellyfish, the scourge of swimming, but a treasure trove of science

They are small and purple, and can sting extremely painfully.

Animals. Jellyfish, the scourge of swimming, but a treasure trove of science

They are small and purple, and can sting extremely painfully. Jellyfish may also disturb sea life along the Mediterranean coast.

Pelagia noctiluca is a small, purple jellyfish that has been found all over the Mediterranean. It was discovered on beaches in Cote d'Azur, Corsica and France. It is impossible to get rid of it. Because jellyfish were among the first to inhabit the planet 600 million years ago.

They are composed of 95 to 98% water and brainless. They can float and swim, but they cannot resist the ocean currents. Fabien Loombard, a teacher-researcher at Villefranche-sur oceanography centre, said that they are "present all year, in a current which goes around the Mediterranean and tends stay offshore." -Sea in the South-East France. "It was the southerly flows that brought them back towards the coasts."

They have been seen in thousands at Ajaccio, Corsica. Simone Martini, an Italian tourist, was among those who made their painful encounter on the Saint-Francois Beach. He was covered in stinging cells and the tentacles from jellyfish. They brushed his forehead, injecting a cocktail of poison.

He told AFP that he still has a burn 15 days later. "These blind animals eat everything they touch in order to eat. Fabien Lombard explains that they inject neurotoxins and digestive enzymes to immobilize prey.

Everyone has their own way of relieving post-injection pain. "Peeing on the it is useless," laughs Fabien Leombard. He advises to not "rub, rinse, and then remove stinging cells using wet sand."

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's September 2019 report, their proliferation would lead to an "gelling" in the oceans.

Fabien Loombard says that the scientific community is divided by this assertion: "We don't have reliable measurements to prove that there are more." While acknowledging that if "in the 80s and 90s, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, there were 5 to 6 years with jellyfish and the following 5-6 years without, this is the 25th non-stop year with jellyfish".

Lovina Fullgrabe is a scientist at Calvi's underwater and oceanographic station (Stareso), in Corsica. She believes that overfishing eliminates turtles or tunas which in turn leads to greater frequency. .

Fabien Loombard, a member of the United Nations Food Organization (FAO), recommended eating them in 2013, to combat their proliferation. However, Fabien Loombard cautions against treating "this symptom" of imbalance in the ocean rather than the actual disease. This is due to the overfishing that has led to the loss of fish.

These animals may be alarming, but they have enabled scientific advancements. The Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1913 awarded research on the function of the jellyfish venom to help understand "anaphylactic shock". This was when it became possible to determine that the venom does not increase the immunity of those who have been stung.

"It was a little revolution because everyone had been adamant that the more you expose your self to something, the more sensitive you will be to it," Fabien Laombard explains.

A second Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2008 for work on certain jellyfish's ability to glow in dark using a protein. The Nobel committee in 2008 pointed out that this fluorescence was used by many biologists, biochemists and medical researchers in their research on cancers or Alzheimer's.

"It has revolutionized the cell biology by literally allowing cells turn on when activated, and to see how they function," said Fabien Laombard.

NASA has sent jellyfish to space to study reproduction in weightlessness. The European Union also launched "GoJelly" a call to projects in 2017 to learn how to exploit them in the food sector. , fertilization, cosmetics or depollution.

The teacher-researcher assures that jellyfish have a lot of potential. They are used to feed aquaculture fish and as fertilizer or soil moisture stabiliser for crops like tomatoes in the Landes, rice from China, or basil in Mexico. The scientist lists that their collagen is used in cosmetics and diapers in Israel as well as in sanitary tampons in Russia.

He believes that jellyfish mucus, which is composed of a molecule that "seems" to encourage the regrowth and maintenance of human cartilage, has the best potential.

To meditate while you swim.

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