Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Acoustic 3-D Imaging Unveils Swimming Behavior Of Microscopic Ocean Plankton

Date:
May 27, 2005
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Below the ocean's surface, currents sweep microscopic animals called zooplankton into patches or clusters. The survival of predatory ocean animals like fish and whales--as well as the success of human fishers--can depend on finding those clusters of zooplankton and the larger animals that feed on them. Scientists long have suspected that the clusters form when zooplankton swim against ocean currents, but researchers have never had a way to track the motions of these miniscule sea creatures.

Microscopic animals called zooplankton are abundant in the world's seas. They survive in ocean currents by "treadmilling" against the strong water flow.
Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Below the ocean's surface, currents sweep microscopic animals called zooplankton into patches or clusters. The survival of predatory ocean animals like fish and whales--as well as the success of human fishers--can depend on finding those clusters of zooplankton and the larger animals that feed on them. Scientists long have suspected that the clusters form when zooplankton swim against ocean currents, but researchers have never had a way to track the motions of these miniscule sea creatures.

Now, using a newly developed, 3-D imaging system called "Fish TV," an international team of scientists has analyzed the behavior of more than 375,000 individual zooplankton swimming against currents. In the May 6 issue of the journal Science, researchers from Israel, the United States and Germany showed that zooplankton keep their position at various depths by "treadmilling" against currents.

The new Fish TV system, developed by scientist Jules Jaffe of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., allowed the team to track individual zooplankton at two coastal sites in the Red Sea. Along with Jaffe and Peter Franks from Scripps, the team included Amatzia Genin and Ruth Reef from the Hebrew University, and Claudio Richter from the Center for Tropical Marine Ecology in Bremen, Germany.

Scuba divers attached Fish TV's sonar transducer to a large underwater tripod extending 20 feet above the sea floor. The transducer was connected by a cable to a control unit with a computer and other electronic hardware.

"Technological advances in studying the movements of very small animals in the ocean have allowed us to discover that these organisms aren't simply at the mercy of physical forces like currents," said Philip Taylor, director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) biological oceanography program, which funded the research. "These animals are altering their position in the environment in unique ways."

"One of the most amazing aspects of this research is that we were able to see 375,000 individual zooplankton, many as small as 1 millimeter in length, as they were swimming," said Jaffe. "It's remarkable that we can capture images of such tiny creatures, in three dimensions from two meters [6.5 feet] away."

That small zooplankton are capable of remaining at a constant depth with a precision of centimeters, sometimes in the face of strong vertical currents, is incredible, said Genin. "It implies that these organisms have extremely sensitive depth sensors."

The research was also funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research through the Red Sea Program and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and by the Office of Naval Research and California Sea Grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Acoustic 3-D Imaging Unveils Swimming Behavior Of Microscopic Ocean Plankton." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050527110200.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2005, May 27). Acoustic 3-D Imaging Unveils Swimming Behavior Of Microscopic Ocean Plankton. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050527110200.htm
National Science Foundation. "Acoustic 3-D Imaging Unveils Swimming Behavior Of Microscopic Ocean Plankton." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050527110200.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins