South Korea’s plans to shred a jellyfish plague with underwater robots may actually end up spawning millions more of the stingers.
Boffins at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed semi-autonomous robots that can round the creatures up in nets and rip thousands of them apart per hour.
They claim it’s one of the few ways to stop them from spreading — and from causing chaos like the shutdown of a nuclear reactor in Sweden last week.
But one biologist claims that the institute’s Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm (JEROS) could actually do more harm than good.
Jellyfish expert Rebecca Helm, a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, said cutting open sea nettles is in fact a great way to fertilize them.
“Assuming you rip through 6,000 jellies per hour for 12 hours, you’ve now released 72,000 jellies worth of eggs and sperm into the water all at once, rather than slowly over time,” she wrote on the Deep Sea News website.
The embryos, she claims, would fall to the seafloor to metamorphose into polyps where they would then multiply.
“One polyp can produce hundreds of clones, and each clone can produce hundreds of jellies. Get where I’m going with this?” she adds.
Helm revealed swimmers could still be stung by shredded jellyfish tentacles, which would be more likely to end up in bathing area as they could pass through nets.
And, she claims, the jelly biomass would sink to the seafloor and smother existing life-forms.
Rather than using robots to combat the increase in stingers, which scientists put down to over-fishing and climate change, Helm said fishermen should start harvesting the jellies.
Fisherman could remove the salt and use them as fertilizer for land-based crops, he said.
Shredding jellyfish with robots may spawn millions