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The Mighty Copepod (Audio)

These teeny shrimp-like critters at the bottom of the ocean food web seem totally unimportant. But throw in an oil spill and some well-intentioned human intervention and they can have a huge impact, right up to the top of the food web, including sea turtles, dolphins and humans. Meet the mighty copepod.

Despite the fact that copepods are able to sense extremely small ripples from approaching predators and have lightning fast swim reflexes, seahorses can still manage to sneak up on them. Ed Buskey, who heads the DROPPS consortium, and research scientist Brad Gemmell used holography to reveal how the seahorse does it: the seahorse's head is shaped to minimize the disturbance of water in front of its mouth before it strikes. Just above and in front of the seahorse's nostrils is a kind of "no wake zone," and the seahorse angles its head precisely in relation to its prey so that no fluid disturbance reaches it.

About Point of Discovery

Point of Discovery is a production of the University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences. You can listen via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Google Play. Questions or comments about this episode or our series in general? Email Marc Airhart.

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Monday, 15 July 2019

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An audio journey behind the front lines of science. Music by Poddington Bear.


Marc Airhart







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