The Mixing of the Oceans: The Significance of Shrimp and Krill


The mysteries of the ocean are fascinating to discover and study. There are many things down in the deep waters that have yet to be understood. Scientists are making strides to get to new depths on a regular basis. Many creatures that live in the sea depend on its regular currents and seasonal changes to survive. A delicate food chain also exists in the ocean world. Scientists have recently discovered that some organisms living in the ocean are responsible for large amounts of turbulence that can extend far deeper than the originating source. This is a powerful experience that may cause changes in the mix of the ocean water. This may be an important part of how the ocean supports wildlife.

How it Works 

Shrimp and brine are incredibly small compared to many of the massive creatures that reside in the Earth’s many oceans. They, however, have been discovered to have a big impact. Researchers created a small water source in the lab and released Brine shrimp into the tank. The shrimp naturally moved in two different directions. The tank consisted of different layers of water. Each layer had a different density of salt, like the ocean. When the shrimp began to move, eddies were formed that eventually turned into a large jet. The entire tank underwent changes. The various layers of the water were then able to mix, causing less isolation of salt in separate layers. Early theories suggested that each individual shrimp or krill only made a small, individual eddy that did not have much impact. This new evidence suggests that the small organisms in the ocean have a big role.

The Benefits

In the larger scale of the ocean, these small shrimp are found in huge groups. When this action occurs in the ocean, it is thought to have the same effect. The shrimp move in their natural way, causing large eddies that reach deep into the ocean, mixing several layers of salt water. This helps to make a more evenly distributed salt content, and also disperses the necessary nutrients to phytoplankton and other plants near the surface of the water. Plants, in turn, may be a necessary food source for other living things. The migration of these organisms may spread these benefits far throughout the expanse of the ocean. This mixing of ocean layers may help to keep the aquatic ecosystem in balance.

Observations

Once the changes were understood in small-scale tanks, scientists took experiments to the next level. Shrimp and krill were placed in much larger tanks and the numbers of the organisms were increased. Tens of thousands of shrimp and krill inhabited a 1.2 meter tank. Another tank was expanded to hold a depth of two meters. The water was carefully placed in layers of varying density. Scientists used LED lights to initiate movement in the creatures. Many variations of sea life migrate up and down daily to meet their dietary needs. Some may also need to reach an area that offers sunlight.

Migrations of krill, denizens, and copepods are known to move daily in large groups. It was observed that the large group element was not the only contributing factor to the massive eddies that resulted. The fact that the shrimp and krill swam close to each other also made a difference. It is the same effect that any group effort has. The shrimp and krill were able to accomplish more when working together. A chain reaction is set off when one small part of the group kicks water down. The next organism does the same thing. The water then gets pushed with more force as the activity continues, in the ocean, the results could reach down hundreds of meters.

Climate

The benefits of this mixing process far exceed nutrition for sea life. The plants that receive the nutrition from deeper levels of ocean water, also play a part in our climate. With the recent pollution of the atmosphere, we cannot afford to lose any beneficial plant life. The plants on the surface of the ocean contribute to the mixing of gasses in the atmosphere. This helps to filter the air and keep our climate stable.

This study has proven successful and is a great starting point for studies further out in the ocean. Scientists often start out with a small research project that helps them to identify what needs to be observed next. This particular research study has shed light on what to look for in the next round. The health of sea life and the atmosphere may be dependent on the movement of smaller creatures. Large migrations of shrimp and krill can make significant changes to the mixture of deep waters. This gives humans a lot to think about, considering that we consume many living useful living things from the sea.


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