Throughout his studies, marine biologist Dr. David Gruber was conflicted by the reality that sometimes in order to study organisms, scientists had to harm the specimens they were attempting to understand. Deep in the darkest and most secretive parts of our ocean, harsh conditions and inaccessibility can make it difficult to study its elusive inhabitants. This is even more difficult with jellyfish which can be small and extremely delicate. But now, Dr. Gruber and his team have developed a robotic hand with silicone fingers that allow researchers to capture and study golfball-sized jellyfish without harming them. The fingers, which exert about 1/10th of the pressure that that human eyelid exerts on our eyes, gently surrounds the animals, almost like a hug, and allows the creatures to be studied without distress.
Although it took many prototypes to develop a model that works for both jellyfish and the scientists that study them, the team has finally come up with a version that lasts for up to 100 captures and will allow them to gather vital information about Earth’s deepest dwellers without harming these delicate subjects.