2 reviews in this post: first the best jellyfish monograph published to this day – I’ll treat you with a bunch of stunning facts at the end of the review. After that, a much lauded slipstream classic.
JELLYFISH: A NATURAL HISTORY – Lisa-Ann Gershiwn (2016)
Good books on jellyfish are hard to find: there hardly exist any. I’ve had the German ‘Quallen’ by Thomas Heeger (2004) for years, and that used to be the only comprehensive scientific monograph on the subject: someone should translate that in English.
I’m fascinated by the subject, so when I saw this very book in the biography of the underwhelming little book on jellyfish that Peter Williams published in 2020 I bought it instantly.
This book isn’t really about 50 jellyfish as advertised on the back: it rather is a monograph on 5 subjects: jellyfish anatomy, life history, taxonomy and evolution, ecology and finally the impact of humanity on jellyfish. Each subject gets about 20 pages in text (and some graphics & pictures), and after that Gershwin each time presents 10 jellyfish that illustrate some of the stuff from that particular chapter’s subject. Each jellyfish gets a full page photograph, and one page with additional information.
This makes for a bit of a hybrid: this is both a coffee table book with great, clear illustrations & a fairly thorough introduction to jellyfish biology. I doubt experienced marine biologists with an interest in the subject will learn a lot of new things from Gershwin, but for the general public the book is detailed nonetheless.