Korea’s plan to shred a jellyfish plague with robots could spawn millions more

Korea’s plan to shred a jellyfish plague with robots could spawn millions more

By Christopher Mims @mims October 7, 2013

Some jellyfish only become stronger after being attacked by robots. Specifically, the jellyfish-shredding robots of the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm, or JEROS, developed by researchers at the Korea Science Academy. In theory, using semi-autonomous robots to round up jellyfish in nets and shred thousands per hour is one of the few ways to eliminate these otherwise virtually unstoppable beasts, which earlier this week shut down a nuclear reactor in Sweden, which sounds exotic but is actually a fairly common problem. But turning some species of these creatures into jellyfish gazpacho could actually lead to more of them, notes jellyfish biologist Rebecca Helm. Cutting open sea nettles, for example, is actually one way to artificially fertilize them.Assuming you rip through 6,000 jellies per hour for 12 hours, you’ve now released SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND jellies worth of eggs and sperm into the water all at once, rather than slowly over time. And where are those embryos going to go? They’re going to the sea floor to metamorphose into polyps, in stressful conditions that are now great for them and terrible for everyone else (thanks to all the dead biomass floating around) and they’re going to multiply. Jelly polyps can live for years, and can clone themselves. One polyp can produce hundreds of clones, and each clone can produce hundreds of jellies. Get where I’m going with this?

And that nightmare scenario is just the start. Shredded jellyfish tentacles can still sting, and once they’ve been diced by the JEROS, they’ll pass right through the nets designed to protect swimming areas. Chopped up jellyfish goop can also threaten nuclear power plants just as effectively as whole jellies. Plus, these robots will essentially fill the seas with mulch made out of jelly biomass, which will fall to the seafloor and could smother whatever was trying to make a living down there.

Helm’s favorite solution to the jellyfish plague currently afflicting the world’s oceans—which scientists attribute to both over-fishing and climate change—is to harvest the jellies, remove the salt and use them as fertilizer for land-based crops.


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KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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