New deepwater laser tool measures filtering power of giant larvaceans’ snot bubbles
© 2017 MBARI
Never underestimate the value of a disposable mucus house.
Filmy, see-through envelopes of mucus, called “houses,” get discarded daily by the largest of the sea creatures that exude them. The old houses, often more than a meter across, sink toward the ocean bottom carrying with them plankton and other biological tidbits snagged in their goo.
Now, scientists have finally caught the biggest of these soft and fragile houses in action, filtering particles out of seawater for the animal to eat. The observations, courtesy of a new deepwater laser-and-camera system, could start to clarify a missing piece of biological roles in sequestering carbon in the deep ocean, researchers say May 3 in Science Advances.
The houses come from sea animals called larvaceans, not exactly a household name. Their bodies are diaphanous commas afloat in the oceans: a