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Arctic winter’s moonlight is driving migrations, study finds

Akshay Tarfe



Arctic winter moonlight is driving migrations, study finds

Arctic winter’s moonlight is driving migrations, study finds

Arctic winter is driving the migration patterns of the creatures in the region, the new study has found. The Arctic area or North pole technically doesn’t receive any sunlight during winter and therefore, life here revolves around the moonlight. Small marine creatures are migrating vertically due to moonlight here. Scientists explain that zooplanktons are trying avoid the hunting by bigger animals in the moon light.

The Scottish Association for Marine Science’s Kim Last told that the werewolf like behavior has been observed in these creatures where the mass migrations are taking place under the influence of moon.  The pattern was same across shelf, slope, fjord and open sea.

The data also reveals that the creatures have adapted their life cycles according to 24.8-hour lunar day from 24-hour solar day. The rise of moon above the horizon in winter triggers the vertical migration of zooplanktons. For every 29.5 days during winter, the zooplanktons undergo mass sinking from the surface at the depth of 50 meters. This event happens on almost every full Moon.

The scientists working on this project were surprised as the migration pattern is universal across places. Lunar migration has been a continuous event for almost 50 years now.  Even the ice or snow cover doesn’t stop it from happening. Vertically downward migration results in the transfer of carbon from the upper surface of sea to deep ocean floor.

The research explains how energy transfer takes place in the absence of photosynthesis. The study about Arctic winter migration has been published in the scientific journal Cell Press.

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