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Picture of the Day

Baby sea snails ride waves into shallower waters, study suggests

The warming ocean may cause the larvae of bottom-dwelling snails to hatch earlier in the spring, when waves are larger, potentially impacting their ability to survive and serve as food for other sea creatures. A National Science Foundation-funded study sheds new light on the sensory organs the snail larvae use to feel -- and perhaps even hear -- whether the water is turbulent or wavy, and improve their odds of being carried to a good habitat, where they can settle down as adults. The inlet-dwelling snails more often experience water that is turbulent but not very wavy. The continental shelf-dwelling snails live in a less turbulent, wavier environment. In experiments, the researchers found that the larvae experienced turbulence as rotation or tilting of the body and sensed waves as acceleration in a straight line. Both signals are detected by a statocyst -- a small organ similar to the human inner ear. The experiments suggest larvae can detect waves as both motion and low-frequency sound.

Visit Website | Image credit: Heidi L. Fuchs/Rutgers University-New Brunswick