In chaos theory they say that the infinitesimal fluttering of the wings of a butterfly can hypothetically turn into a violent tornado.
Now, scientists have shown how some of the smallest creatures in the ocean under the waves can have the same oversized effect – with swarms of marine organisms that inadvertently create strong currents that mix and stir up a turbulent underwater environment.
"Floating animals could play an important role in ocean mixing – an idea that was almost heretical in oceanography," explains fluid mechanic John Dabiri of Stanford University.
"At the moment, many of our ocean climate models do not exist. The effects of animals are not included, or if they do, they are involved as passive participants in the process."
The thought behind this exclusion, is understandable.
The kind of creatures that Dabiris Team has studied in their new research ̵
How could this insignificant zooplankton make ocean blue blue?
Strength in Numbers As it turns out, swarms of creatures walk in vertical columns every day, feeding off the ocean surface at night before retreating hundreds of feet deep into the day.
"You have this massive hike every day vertically from literally trillions of organisms," Dabiri told NPR.
"As they start to swim up, each one of them kicks some liquid back … pretty soon you have that vertical onslaught of these shrimp, and [the water is] are chased down by this successive series of kicks . "
To measure the effects of this snowball effect, the team placed saltwater shrimps in vertical tanks filled with salt water and induced the day / night migrations of the animals up and down lights, indicating the rise and fall imitate the sunlight.
The researchers then filmed the water flow using dyes and tiny glass beads to visualize the strength of the swirls that created the swarms.
From their footage the team discovered that not only did the animals distribute water in small, localized regions, but they also spread considerable volumes of proxy ocean wherever they went.
"They did not just displace fluid, the t hen returned to its original location," explains Isabel Houghton, a team member.
"Everything is irreversibly mixed."
Previously, these effects were only detected in the laboratory, but when the same thing happens In the real world, biologists and oceanographers have to rethink how marine life contributes to ocean turbulence – especially in larger animals like jellyfish, cuttlefish, fish and even large mammals could happen.
Unlike the metaphor of the butterfly wings, which create a vortex on the other side of the planet, however, the seething effects are unlikely to capsize your next deep-sea cruise.
But they could have a major impact on our assessment. Phenomena like submerged nutrient transport and how carbon dioxide, like carbon dioxide, spreads underwater and is released into the atmosphere – and all that when life forms come together, that's why we're stronger.
Even if you only have a 1-centimeter Sea-Monkey
"Previous studies looked for turbulence or swirls in the size range of animals," said Dabiri Science News.
"This paper tells us for the first time what we need to look for."
The results are reported in Nature