Close Window
Arctic Organisms Migrate by Wintertime Moonlight January 15, 2016
Zooplankton
Zooplankton make a daily migration to darker depths to escape being eaten when the Arctic winter moon illuminates the otherwise perpetual wintertime darkness.
Many creatures living in the perpetual darkness of the Arctic winter remain very active during the period, using the light of the moon to move around.

Scientists say they have found that zooplankton, which feed each night near the ocean’s surface and typically dive to darker depths during the day to keep from being eaten, use the moon to light their way in winter when the sun isn’t available.

“During the permanently dark and extremely cold Arctic winter, tiny marine creatures, like mythical werewolves, respond to moonlight by undergoing mass migrations,” said Kim Last, with the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

The organisms sink lower in the water every 29.5 days as the full moon rises and its light penetrates the deepest.

Scientists found this even happens beneath sea ice, with snow cover on top.

Photo: Scottish Association for Marine Science