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Physics could unite plankton

The oceanic version of wind shear can disorient marine microorganisms and trigger formation of thin, densely populated layers

2:13pm, February 19, 2009

Phytoplankton sometimes come together in the ocean because they can’t tell which way is up, new research suggests.

Oceanographers have long known that certain species of phytoplankton often form kilometer-wide layers only a few centimeters thick. Researchers have sought an explanation because these layers are often the source of toxic algal blooms known as red tides.

Now researchers have one idea for how the layers form: Lab experiments hint that conditions inside the thin layer of water separating a surface current from a deeper on

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