Lisa-ann Gershwin

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Lisa-ann Gershwin is a biologist based in Launceston, Tasmania, who has described over 200 species of jellyfish,[1] and written and co-authored several non-fiction books about Cnidaria (jellyfish and allies) including Stung! (2013)[2] and Jellyfish - A Natural History (2016).[3]


Gershwin began studying jellyfish in 1992. She was a Fulbright Fellow in 1998-1999 and completed a PhD at James Cook University in 2005.[4]

Gershwin has worked with and for a range of scientific organisations, including CSIRO.[4]

She developed a system to predict blooms of the hazardous Irukandji jellyfish in north Queensland. She led a team that discovered that the blooms coincide with the blooming of salps, and that these were prompted by upwelling after the dying down of trade winds.[5] In December 2017 Gershwin's team refined a model for the early warning forecasting systems for irukandjis, with water testing off Cairns' northern beaches.[6][7]

She has described several poisonous jellyfish—nine species of irukandji,[8] including the Queensland species Malo kingi and Malo maximus,[9] and the giant irukandji species Keesingia gigas from Western Australia, which was discovered without tentacles.[10]

Gershwin was one of the co-describers of the unusual jellyfish Bazinga rieki, which is the sole member of the new family Bazingidae and partly named for the colloquialism uttered by Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the TV program The Big Bang Theory.[11] In early 2014, a giant "snotty" jellyfish some 1.5m in diameter was discovered at a beach in Howden, south of Hobart. Studied by Gershwin currently, it is due to be described in a future paper.[12]



Gershwin's 2013 book entitled Stung describes the diversity and adaptability of jellyfish, and their increasing numbers at the expense of other organisms worldwide, through over-fishing, pollution and modification of the marine environment.[2] She concedes there is little that can be done to reverse or even halt the process of the marine environment becoming dominated by jellyfish worldwide.[13]

In 2016, Gershwin's 224 page book Jellyfish - a natural history was published by The Ivy Press. It covers jellyfish anatomy, life history, taxonomy and ecology and includes species level information and many full page photographs.[14]


Gershwin wrote for The Conversation in December 2015 about blue bottles,[15] and in January 2016, about deadly sea creatures.[16]

In November 2017, Gershwin completed an invited book review for Nature, spanning Juli Berwald's Spineless: the science of jellyfish and the art of growing a backbone, and Danna Staaf's Squid empire: the rise and fall of the cephalopods.[17]

Profiles and news interviews[edit]


In February 2014, Gershwin was interviewed by Bec Crew for Scientific American.[18]

In June 2014, Gershwin was highlighted as a valuable expert in Anne Mather's article on funding cuts for CSIRO's Hobart office.[1] In January 2019, ABC reported that Gershwin's role at CSIRO would finish in February as her contract was not being renewed, but that she would continue her jellyfish research through her private consultancy.[19]

In May 2017, Gershwin was interviewed by Richard Fidler for ABC Radio.[20]

News interviews[edit]

In February 2017, Gershwin commented on a jellyfish bloom at Deception Bay, as being the biggest she had seen in her 25 years of research.[21] In January 2018, she was interviewed about an unusual wave of bluebottles in Cairns.[22] In January 2018, the Atlantic cited her 2007 Radio National interview on the symptoms of being stung by irukandji, Malo kingi.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Gershwin is related to composer George Gershwin.[8] She was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2010.[24]


  1. ^ a b Mather, Annie (29 June 2014). "Expert in deadly jellyfish loses job as funds dry up". Hobart Mercury. News Ltd. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Stung!". Goodreads. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  3. ^ "Jellyfish". Goodreads. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  4. ^ a b "Dr Lisa Gershwin". Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  5. ^ Kachel, Nicholas (14 May 2014). "Improving prediction of deadly Irukandji jellyfish blooms". News@CSIRO. CSIRO. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Science's sting in tail". Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  7. ^ "Subscribe to the Cairns Post". Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  8. ^ a b Williams, Robyn (17 July 2004). "Gershwin & the Irukandji". The Science Show. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  9. ^ Gershwin, L. (2007). Malo kingi: A new species of Irukandji jellyfish (Cnidaria: Cubozoa: Carybdeida), possibly lethal to humans, from Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa 1659 55-68.
  10. ^ "New toxic jellyfish with no tentacles found in WA". Australian Geographic. 8 August 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  11. ^ Gershwin, L. & Davie, P.J.F. (30 June 2013). "A remarkable new jellyfish (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa) from coastal Australia, representing a new suborder within the Rhizostomeae. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum — Nature 56(2)" (PDF). Queensland Museum. pp. 625–630. ISSN 0079-8835.
  12. ^ Levy, Megan (February 6, 2014). "New species of giant 'snotty' jellyfish found in Tasmania". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  13. ^ Flannery, Tim (26 September 2013). "They're Taking Over!". The New York Review of Books. NYREV. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  14. ^ "National Library of Australia Bookshop". Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  15. ^ Gershwin, Lisa-ann. "The blue bottles are coming, but what exactly are these creatures?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  16. ^ Gershwin, Lisa-ann. "Don't go in the water: a world of pain awaits in Australia's deep blue seas". The Conversation. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  17. ^ Gershwin, Lisa-ann (2 November 2017). "Zoology: The joys of spinelessness". Nature. 551 (32). doi:10.1038/551032a.
  18. ^ Crew, Bec. "In Conversation with Lisa-Anne Gershwin, Jellyfish Savant". Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  19. ^ Sundstrom, Kathy (10 January 2019). "Irukandji warning system in doubt as leading stinger expert departs CSIRO". ABC news. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  20. ^ The delicate and deadly world of jellyfish: from Bazinga to Shiraz, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2017-04-26, retrieved 2018-01-04
  21. ^ "Thousands of jellyfish wash up on Queensland beach". ABC News. 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  22. ^ Bateman, Daniel (4 January 2018). "Northern Beaches awash with bluebottles". The Cairns Post. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  23. ^ Giggs, Rebecca. "Imagining the Jellyfish Apocalypse". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  24. ^

External links[edit]