Spineless by Juli Berwald | Black Inc.

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

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Image of the ocean floor with a large red octopus in the centre Birds-eye view photograph of trees with yellow and white text

About the author

Juli Berwald

Juli Berwald received her PhD in ocean science from the University of Southern California. A science textbook writer and editor, she has contributed to many science textbooks and written for The New York Times, Nature, National …

More about Juli Berwald

Praise for Spineless

‘In this lovely exploration of the mysterious jellyfish, Berwald both entrances and sounds a warning: pay attention to the messages sent by ocean life, and act to protect their environment, and ours.’ —Kirkus

‘More than a mere look at jellyfish... [Spineless] provides plenty of food for thought for those seeking to make different choices in their treatment of the environment and in their own lives.’—Library Journal

Spineless is as mesmerizing, surprising, and beautiful as the jellyfish itself. Every page contains some astonishing treasure. If you cherish the sea, if you care about the environment, if you relish life on this sweet, blue planet, you will love this book.’ —Sy Montgomery, New York Times–bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus

‘An astonishingly gorgeous book… Science enthusiasts, curious animal lovers, and those who want to educate themselves more on climate change’s effect on our oceans will find this book irresistible.’ —W Magazine

‘Like Bernd Heinrich, Juli Berwald illuminates an entire ecosystem through the lens of one remarkable group of creatures. I learned something from every page, not only about jellyfish but about the crucial role of marine scientists and their studies.’—Andrea Barrett, author of Archangel and The Voyage of the Narwhal

‘Berwald’s clear, delectable prose is accessible ... The book forces the reader to reconsider the future of our planet, and of our role in it. It will, at the very least, leave you with a newfound appreciation of the translucent, spineless jellies.’—Buzzfeed

‘In this memoir/science-reporting mash-up, [Berwald] profiles one of the ocean's most intriguing creatures – the unique contractions it uses to propel through water, its acidifying habitat and its booming populations.’—Scientific American

‘Captivating and informative.’—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

‘Berwald offers an engrossing look at the enigmatic sea creature most easily recognised in its swimming ‘medusa’ form … A revelatory science memoir.’—BBC Culture

‘In this astonishing adventure of a book, Juli Berwald takes us on a personal journey into the enchanting and mystifying aqueous world of jellyfish, and in so doing, sheds light on the vital ecological balances upon which our own survival depends.’ —Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being

‘With lucid, gorgeous, arresting language, Juli Berwald opens a rare window on the adventures of scientists at work, capturing the fabulously ingenious ways they make sense of our world. Spineless will leave you awestruck, revering the ever more fragile brilliance of life on Earth.’—Miriam Horn, author of Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman

‘Berwald uncovers many fascinating aspects of jellyfish behaviour, including the fact that they are the most efficient swimmers ever discovered.’—Tim Flannery

‘This thoroughly engaging book turned my old horror into wonderment and by its end into something close to love and awe.’—Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk