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Publisher's Summary

A former ocean scientist goes in pursuit of the slippery story of jellyfish, rediscovering her passion for marine science and the sea's imperiled ecosystems.

Jellyfish are an enigma. They have no centralized brain, but they see and feel and react to their environment in complex ways. They look simple, yet their propulsion systems are so advanced that engineers are just learning how to mimic them. They produce some of the deadliest toxins on the planet and still remain undeniably alluring. Long ignored by science, they may be a key to ecosystem stability.

Juli Berwald's journey into the world of jellyfish is a personal one. More than a decade ago, she left the sea and her scientific career behind to raise a family in landlocked Austin, Texas. Increasingly dire headlines drew her back to jellies, as unprecedented jellyfish blooms toppled ecosystems and collapsed the world's most productive fisheries. What was unclear was whether these incidents were symptoms of a changing planet or part of a natural cycle.

Berwald's desire to understand jellyfish takes her on a scientific odyssey. She travels the globe to meet the scientists who devote their careers to jellies; hitches rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild; raises jellyfish in her dining room; and throughout it all marvels at the complexity of these fascinating and ominous biological wonders. Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless reveals that jellyfish are a bellwether for the damage we're inflicting on the climate and the oceans and a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share.

©2017 Juli Berwald (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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The closest thing to a jellyfish textbook

As someone that is looking to pursue a career in studying jellyfish it is incredibly difficult to find an easily digestible source of information on jellyfish. This book served as both a jumping off point for deep diving into topics and as bastion of information. Paired with Julie Berwalds story of finding a love for science once again "Spineless" certainly furthered my passion for jellyfish.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Jellyfish

Jellyfish are so interesting and wonderful when put in this context and I am glad that Juli Berwald provide all this information on one of my favorite animals.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Spineless but not without backbone!

I originally went back to college to study marine biology. How I ended up wrenching on aircraft is a convoluted story, one I don't have the patience to explain nor do I think you want to hear/read. But this book helped satisfy that craving and tugs at my heart strings. My heart will always be with marine biology over all else. Juli Berwald is now my hero for doing what I can't/couldn't. Thank you for such an amazing book, Mrs. Berwald! You are truly inspiring.

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More daily diary than scientific news

Large sections about what she was wearing or eating and her political opinions that detracted from the jellyfish.

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Well-written, strange feedback in narration

Well-written. The narrator/author is good, but somehow sounds mechanical, which makes it hard to listen to after a while.

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Love this book

Any additional comments?

I wasn't sure I would be able to listen to the book at first. The author reads it instead of a professional and drove me crazy at first with strange pauses. She has a good voice and projects her enthusiasm for the subject and after a few pages I was hooked on the book and not worrying about the reading. I love science books about living creatures but had no idea this subject has so much interesting information. Great book!