13 Aug 2009

Researchers study Palau jellyfish movements

2:22 pm on 13 August 2009

Researchers have found that jellyfish in the ocean move nutrients around that helps maintain the marine environment.

A team from the California Institute of Technology went to Palau to see how jellyfish dragged water around as they swam.

They found animals which swim up and down push nutrients from the sea floor towards the surface.

One of the researchers, Assistant Professor John Dabiri, says all ocean swimmers could contribute one trillion watts of power to mixing, the same power as winds and tides.

Professor Dabiri says now he wants to find areas where animal mixing has the largest effect.

"In terms of the dynamics of the global ocean, there'll be certain locations that are more amenable to being mixed by this process and so future research needs to understand where those locations exist. Certainly, the Pacific being the largest ocean is an excellent candidate."

He says krill and copepods are likely to be big mixers because of their large populations.