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not_nz_wikis:d_box_jellyfish [2012/02/23 11:01]
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not_nz_wikis:d_box_jellyfish [2012/02/23 11:03] (current)
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 It is becoming increasingly clear that our ignorance is creating a public health hazard. Last year, despite extensive measures to keep people and box jellies apart, record numbers of people ended up in hospital with Irukandji syndrome. And, for the first time, there were confirmed deaths from Irukandji stings. In January Richard Jordan, a 58-year-old Briton, died of heart failure after being stung off Hamilton Island. Then in April Robert King, a 44-year-old from Ohio, suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage out on the Great Barrier Reef. It was the "​Summer of Sting"​. It is becoming increasingly clear that our ignorance is creating a public health hazard. Last year, despite extensive measures to keep people and box jellies apart, record numbers of people ended up in hospital with Irukandji syndrome. And, for the first time, there were confirmed deaths from Irukandji stings. In January Richard Jordan, a 58-year-old Briton, died of heart failure after being stung off Hamilton Island. Then in April Robert King, a 44-year-old from Ohio, suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage out on the Great Barrier Reef. It was the "​Summer of Sting"​.
  
-Rattled by bad publicity in the wake of the deaths, the tourist industry has been pouring money into box jellyfish research. And what the biologists are finding comes as a big surprise. First of all, it turns out that box jellyfish are not jellyfish at all. In fact, it looks as though they have been ploughing a separate evolutionary furrow since the Pre-Cambrian,​ 543 million years ago (see Graphic). What's more, the sea is teeming with unknown species. Even a cursory survey has revealed more than a dozen undescribed ones, some probably even more dangerous than Chironex and the Irukandji.+Rattled by bad publicity in the wake of the deaths, the tourist industry has been pouring money into box jellyfish research. And what the biologists are finding comes as a big surprise. First of all, it turns out that box jellyfish are not jellyfish at all. In fact, it looks as though they have been ploughing a separate evolutionary furrow since the Pre-Cambrian,​ 543 million years ag0. What's more, the sea is teeming with unknown species. Even a cursory survey has revealed more than a dozen undescribed ones, some probably even more dangerous than Chironex and the Irukandji.
  
 Behaviourally,​ too, the box jellies are out on a limb. True jellyfish are dim-witted ocean drifters, but these are fast, active predators that hunt and kill prey with incredible speed and brutality. They sleep at night, a behaviour unknown in similarly "​primitive"​ creatures. And they have sophisticated sensory systems including two different kinds of eye. Yet, bizarrely, they have no brain with which to process the information. "​They'​re out there on their own," says Jamie Seymour, a tropical biologist at James Cook University in Cairns. "​Aliens,"​ adds Gershwin, only half joking. Behaviourally,​ too, the box jellies are out on a limb. True jellyfish are dim-witted ocean drifters, but these are fast, active predators that hunt and kill prey with incredible speed and brutality. They sleep at night, a behaviour unknown in similarly "​primitive"​ creatures. And they have sophisticated sensory systems including two different kinds of eye. Yet, bizarrely, they have no brain with which to process the information. "​They'​re out there on their own," says Jamie Seymour, a tropical biologist at James Cook University in Cairns. "​Aliens,"​ adds Gershwin, only half joking.
not_nz_wikis/d_box_jellyfish.txt · Last modified: 2012/02/23 11:03 by art
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