Judith Monroe kicked off today’s afternoon session with jellyfish. Not actual jellyfish (though that would’ve been one seriously memorable session). A story about jellyfish.
Monroe, who’s deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the story of Jellyfish Lake, which is located in the Rock Islands of Palau. Millions of years ago, Jellyfish Lake formed as a landlocked saltwater lake, and the jellyfish got trapped, never to go to the ocean again. So they began to adapt. Their new environment didn’t have the same old predators, so the jellyfish lost their stingers. They freely swim to the top of the lake to get sunlight and to the bottom to get rich nitrogen. The jellyfish have the lake to themselves — as Monroe said, they have a pretty good life.
Of course, this isn’t a story entirely about jellyfish. Monroe was using it as a metaphor for the kind of adaptation and transformation that public health must undergo as well.
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