European Commission - Sun, sea, sand and... jellyfish. Beach holidays have become a risky pursuit as jellyfish populations have exploded in warming seas worldwide in recent years. But thanks to EU-funded researchers, these gelatinous blobs could become a valuable resource - as food, ingredients in medicine and cosmetics, and even as a means to counter pollution.

The groundwork for improving our understanding of jellyfish and potentially developing whole new industries around them has been laid by the EU-funded PULMO project, which set out to identify innovative and practical ways to mitigate the critical ecological and economic impacts of fast-growing jellyfish populations.

The project focused on Rhizostoma pulmo, the so-called barrel or sea lung jellyfish, one of the most common types in the Mediterranean. Large ‘blooms’ of jellyfish have been blamed for disrupting marine ecosystems, decimating fish farms, clogging up cooling systems at coastal power plants and causing substantial economic losses to marine and coastal industries – besides stinging millions of beachgoers each summer.