Artist illustration of jellyfish in clear blue water

Disney mermaids aren’t the only wondrous creatures ‘under the sea’

On the eve of the ‘Little Mermaid’ premiere, a UCLA doctoral candidate speaks up for the jellyfish

Artist illustration of jellyfish in clear blue water

Danist Soh/Unsplash

UCLA College | May 25, 2023

A new UCLA College video series called “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins” spotlights graduate students sharing their academic expertise through a lighthearted lens. And while the first installment in the series does not feature any dancing sea creatures, it does draws its inspiration from the highly anticipated May 26 release of the Disney film “The Little Mermaid.”

Hayden Speck has earned three UCLA degrees so far — bachelor’s degrees in history and biology in 2015, and a master’s degree in biology in 2018 — and he is now a UCLA doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology. And, thanks to his research, he knows a lot about jellyfish.

In the first edition of “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins,” we asked Speck to imagine how mermaids might make use of jellyfish, describe the problems jellies might pose to Disney animators and consider whether he’d be willing to make a deal with a certain sea witch to become a jellyfish himself.

This article originally appeared at UCLA Newsroom. For more of Our Stories at the College, click here.