Researchers have created bionic jellyfish by embedding microelectronics into them, hoping that they will eventually be deployed to explore and monitor the oceans. They have also included a small prosthetic to enable the jellyfish to swim three times faster and more efficiently without causing any apparent stress to the animals.

The plan is to be able to control where the jellyfish go and to develop tiny sensors that measure various aspects of the ocean conditions, e.g., temperature, salinity, acidity, nutrients, etc. Tiny cameras could also be installed on the jellyfish for visuals.

Since measurements at depths greater than 20m are largely missing from our current understanding of the ocean, it is hoped that these bionic jellyfish would be able to swim down to increasing depths to measure such data. Current deep-sea exploration technology is limited to costly ship operations or limited-time underwater vehicles.

Read the full article on Channel News Asia: Bionic jellyfish? Yes, and they are here to help

Analysis:

If this project is successful, this would unlock a whole world of data for marine scientists to analyse. Different areas of the ocean can be monitored for signs of climate change and natural disasters. There is just so much that is unknown about the deep ocean that is waiting to be discovered.

Furthermore, by using animals with natural swimming motions rather than a more disruptive submarine, the environment is likely to be less disturbed. Thus, this increases the range of environments that can be explored, e.g., delicate coral reefs. Since we know so little about the deep ocean environment, it is also wise to not disrupt the natural ecology therein with too much human intervention.

 

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. What do you think are the benefits of deep sea exploration?
  2. Do you think it is a good idea to work with jellyfish? Why or why not? What would cause you to change your mind?


Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘bionic: having or denoting an artificial, typically electromechanical, body part or parts
  2. ‘ubiquitous: present, appearing, or found everywhere

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