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Global – Oceanic mixing by ….jellyfish?

Irishmarinelife’s celebration of the jellyfish as the creature that fulfills the important role of our front page image seems justified by a new paper in Nature. Jellyfish, which have reportedly been arriving to our shores in greater than usual numbers this summer, may be arriving after innoccuously playing a part in oceanic mixing through their vertical movements in the water column.

Jellyfish carrying a trail of dye in its slipstream, one of the study's methodologies. Source - nature.com

Jellyfish carrying a trail of dye in its slipstream, one of the study's methodologies. Source - nature.com

Collectively, the movements of jellyfish could generate mixing of the same scale as wind and tide movement according to this study at The California Institute of Technology.  Charles Darwin’s grandson first proposed the theory behind this research, that in a basic sense water is pulled after an object as the object moves through it.

This is not the first time this theory has been proposed, and it remains controversial in the oceanographic world where the addition of a biological factor to predictive modelling efforts  implies an already complex system may be infinitely more complex than previously imagined.

The much maligned jellyfish whose presence is often perceived as a consequence of local weather and sea conditions, might now be seen as a cause, perhaps increasing it’s unpopularity as we encounter it this rainy summer on our beaches.

Read more on the article here.

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