The largest migration on Earth does not happen on land but in the oceans. Every night at sundown, a great mass of mostly small transparent sea creatures, some no larger than a pea, rises from from a depth of a few hundred meters to the topmost layers of the planet’s oceans to feed on carbon-rich phytoplankton. They then return to the deep, where they deposit that organic, carbon-rich material as waste. As a result of this vertical migration – the largest on Earth – these little-known creatures are helping to keep the planet’s atmospheric carbon dioxide in the deep sea, thereby regulating the Earth’s surface temperature.
Creatures of the Vertical Migration
The text for this post is adapted from the “Science in Images” series published online by Scientific American. All photos are from that series in an article titled, “See the Mysterious Sea Creatures That Only Come Up at Night” by Andrea Gawrylewski. All but two photos were taken off the coast of Florida.