Jellyfish have been invading beaches around the world due to rising ocean temperatures, increased ocean acidity, pollution and overfishing. In April, thousands of jellyfish invaded Hallandale Beach in South Florida, Miami. Colonies of jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico can be 100 miles long.
Howard Carter, who developed a product to relieve jellyfish stings, says, “More and more jellyfish will end up on beaches especially with the strong winds and currents in the US. There are already extremely poisonous species like the box jellyfish in the Caribbean Sea.”
Aside from being a menace to beachgoers because of their sting, jellyfish can also harm underwater infrastructure, clogging the cooling systems of nuclear power plants.
Shachar Richter, a material scientist at the University of Tel Aviv, who began studying jellyfish a few years ago, says he has found a solution to utilize these burgeoning swarms. After Richter realized that the flesh of jellyfish could absorb liquid in large quantities, he and his colleagues developed a fully biodegradable super-absorbent material they named “hydromash” composed of jellyfish flesh and antibacterial nanoparticles which remove the sting.
A typical disposable diaper can take hundreds of years to break down, while a product made of hydromash takes less than 30 days.
His Cine’al startup is using hydromash to make eco-friendly diapers, hygiene products, medical bandages and sponges. The company expects the products to hit the market in the next 18 months.
“Jellyfish are elegant, beautiful and intriguing creatures. If they’re studied properly, there are many more ways [they] can contribute to our lives,” Richter says.