An upside-down jellyfish could help save coral reefs


Upside-down jellyfish growing in a lab in Pennsylvania could help protect endangered coral reefs in the world’s oceans.

The creatures serve as a stand-in for corals off the southern coast of Florida that spawn once a year, seven days after a full moon, exactly three and a half hours after sunset — and at the height of Florida’s hurricane season.

For more than 10 years, Penn State University biologist Mónica Medina made hazardous annual pilgrimages to the Florida reefs to capture coral embryos during this narrow window of opportunity. Until she turned to a more accessible species — Cassiopea xamachana, the upside-down jellyfish, which can thrive in a lab — to provide a faster route to understanding and supporting coral reef health.

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