Jellyfish Behaving Badly?

Tripedalia Cystophora. Image via Wiki Commons.
Tuesday 14 August 2018
6.00 - 7.30pm

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Law School Foyer, Eastern Ave, University of Sydney



Sydney Ideas

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week.

It’s time we talked about jellyfishes. They dazzle us, terrify us, nourish us, and fascinate us. They can seem utterly otherworldly, and yet they’re among the more ancient species to inhabit earth. And because of rising ocean temperatures, they are moving. Scary news, this: it’s not comforting to imagine deadly Irukandji box jellyfish appearing along the New South Wales coast – let alone in Sydney Harbour – but recent sightings at Fraser Island indicate that they are indeed southward bound. Similar developments are prompting people the world over to think more seriously about jellyfish, and about human relations to them. Their movements are signs of the ways the ocean is changing through tropicalization, a matrix of complex processes that have consequences for all varieties of life and habitat, human and otherwise.

Jellyfish Behaving Badly? will not only acquaint you with the latest research into jellyfishes’ changing behaviour. It will also help you understand and imagine what that research means for the future of the sea. And it will bring you closer to these diverse, complicated, and fantastically beautiful creatures, whose lives, we’d better recognise, are inextricably linked with our own.


Dr Jude Philp, Macleay Museum
Professor Mike Kingsford, James Cook University
Associate Professor Will Figueira, School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Dr Killian Quigley, Sydney Environment Institute


Professor Maria Byrne, School of Life and Environmental Sciences


Jude Philp: As senior curator of the Macleay Museum Jude is interested in stimulating research into the collections and increasing the purposefulness of museum holdings through exhibition, research and events. Jude’s current research is in the world of ‘British New Guinea’ and the 19th century practice of natural history for museums.

Michael Kingsford: Michael is a Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology in the College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University.  The College is a recognized world leader in tropical marine science, aquaculture, ecology, environmental sciences, fisheries, planning, plant sciences and zoology; he is the recent past Dean of the College.  Furthermore, he has been President of the Australian Coral Reef Society, Director of One Tree Island Research Station, member of the Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation and the Museum of Tropical Queensland advisory committees. He has published extensively on the ecology of reef fishes, jellyfishes, biological oceanography and climate change.  His projects have encompassed a range of latitudes and he has edited two books on tropical and temperate ecology.  He is a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Innovative Coral Reef Studies. A major focus of his research has been on connectivity of reef fish populations, environmental records in corals and fishes and deadly irukandji jellyfishes.

Will Figueira: My general interests lie in the area of fish population ecology and my research has focused on the behavior and demographics of individual fish populations as well as the large scale connectivity between these populations. The small scale studies are typically conducted on SCUBA or snorkel and employ tools such as tagging, mapping and standard underwater census and behavioural observation techniques. These studies have been conducted in a variety of locations including the Florida Keys (USA), Lee Stocking Island (Bahamas), and One Tree Island (Australia).

Killian Quigley: Killian is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute. He completed his PhD in English at Vanderbilt University in 2016. He is co-editing, with Margaret Cohen, Senses of the Submarine: A Cultural History of the Undersea. Killian’s writings have appeared recently in MAKE, Eighteenth-Century Life, The Eighteenth Century, the newsletter of the Australian Coral Reef Society, and SEI’s blog. He convenes the Reading Environments group at the University of Sydney, and is at work on a poetic and aesthetic history of the ocean entitled Seascape and the Submarine.

Maria Byrne: Maria is Director of the University of Sydney’s One Tree Island Research Station in the Great Barrier Reef. Prof Byrne is an expert in the biology and ecology of marine invertebrates with a current focus on the impacts of climate change. In research funded by the ARC over the last 20 years, Professor Byrne has investigated the role of the evolution of development in generating larval diversity and as a mechanism underlying speciation in the sea. Professor Byrne served as President of Australian Marine Sciences Association and on the boards of the National Oceans Advisory Group and the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies. She has published over 170 refereed articles and book chapters.