Thursday, 22 March 2012

'Flying plankton' escape predatory fish

Tiny shrimp-like creatures called copepods break through the ocean's surface and leap through the air to escape predators, US scientists say.
They have been investigating how the brightly-coloured Pontellid copepods, which live close to the surface, are so abundant yet so conspicuous to fish.
Writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the scientists say copepods travel further in air than in water.
Predators are also left confused about where they will land, they say.
Almost all commercially important fish, including cod, pollock and whiting, feed on copepods.
There are reports from the late-19th Century of copepods breaking through the water surface but observers at the time thought this was to allow them to moult.
A later report proposed jumping was part of an escape from predators but was not confirmed.

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