Diel Vertical Migration During a Solar Eclipse

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The Great American Eclipse occurred off the Oregon Coast at 10:15am on August 21, 2017, during the third leg of the OOI-UW Cabled Array cruise aboard the R/V Roger Revelle.  On the evening before departing on Leg 3 of the cruise, University of Washington Oceanography students, Ann Stafford and Aaron Mau, walked with a few others to see the whale skull outside the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.  Both undergraduate students sailed on the expedition as part of the VISIONS educational program. During this stroll, and in anticipation of the upcoming alignment of the earth, moon, and sun, the group considered whether zooplankton would perform the phenomenon known as Diel Vertical Migration (DVM) during the eclipse. 

Zooplankton Migration: This three-minute film explains Diel Vertical Migration (DVM) and shows that zooplankton performed DVM off the Oregon Coast during the 2017 eclipse.  Zooplankton migrated below the euphotic zone early in the morning of the eclipse, then began their ascent as the sky darkened, and then returned below the euphotic zone after the eclipse was over. The findings confirm previous research indicating that changes in solar irradiance trigger zooplankton to move vertically in the water column, and more specifically, that zooplankton perform DVM during an eclipse. 

The presence of a cabled bioacoustic echosounder on the Endurance Array located off the Oregon Coast, as part of the Oceans Observatories Initiative (OOI) Cabled Array proved to be the right instrument at the right time to demonstrate that DVM occurred during the eclipse.  This video also serves an example of research cooperation between the University of Washington and Oregon State University. 

The target audience for this film is educators and students interested in oceanography, marine biology, bioacoustics, sonar technology, and engineering.  The film aims to introduce viewers to an oceanographic phenomenon they likely have not previously considered, and in so doing, piques interest in this field of study.  The film inspires a sense of marvel in the world’s oceans, and encourages people to pursue careers in oceanography, marine biology, sonar technology, and engineering.  Scientists also will find the video interesting! 

This research would not have been possible without instruments on the Ocean Observatories Initiative Cabled Array off the coast of Oregon that stream data live 24/7 to shore at the speed of light.  Support for the Cabled Array Expedition and VISIONS17 came from the National Science Foundation and the University of Washington.

The video highlights elements of oceanography, marine biology, ecology, phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, photosynthesis, euphotic zone, predation avoidance, trophic levels, food web, marine engineering, bio acoustics, and echo-sounder.  While the film’s target audience is educators and students, adults and scientists also will find it interesting!