FYFD Video

Can Zooplankton Mix Oceans?

Swimming zooplankton, seen in shadowgraph

Krill and other tiny marine zooplankton make daily migrations to and from the ocean surface. Previously, models of ocean mixing ignored these migrations; these animals are tiny, researchers argued, so any effects they could have would be too small to matter. But zooplankton make these migrations in huge swarms, and studies of a laboratory analog of their migrations (using brine shrimp rather than krill) reveal that, when moving en masse, these tiny swimmers create turbulent jets and eddies far larger than an individual. Their collective motion is enough to mix salty water layers 1000 times faster than molecular diffusion alone! Learn more in the latest FYFD video, embedded below. (Image and video credit: N. Sharp; research credit: I. Houghton et al.; h/t to Kam-Yung Soh)

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