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Shoals of herring do the 'wave' (MIT, Mar 26)

Shoals of herring do the 'wave' (MIT, Mar 26) according to Nick Makris of MIT, when describing how 250 million herring converge into shoals up to forty kilometers long on Georges Bank in the Gulf of Maine.

Census researcher Nick Makris, Purnima Ratilal of Northeastern University, and others use their own acoustic observation system to observe fish patterns over large scales and determine what triggers the rapid movement of fish into a group of synchronized swimmers.   When a critical density is reached, the fish fall into formation at a pace faster than any one fish can swim and the movement goes through the mass of herring almost instantaneously.  According to MIT News, "the phenomenon is akin to a human 'wave' moving around a sports stadium."   The findings will contribute to our understanding of animal group behavior and contribute to marine ecosystem knowledge.

Their paper, Critical Population Density Triggers Rapid Formation of Vast Oceanic Fish Shoals, was published March 27 in Science.  Congratulations, Nick and all.

Image credit: Hugo Controni, MIT news

Spring 2009 Issue of Discover the Gulf of Maine Newsletter

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