Eclipse May Significantly Affect Migration Of Aquatic Life, Says OSU Professor

Aug 16, 2017

While millions of people will be looking up to witness the solar eclipse this Monday, some will be monitoring the ocean for its effects on what an Oregon researcher calls the “largest mass migration on the planet”, among other things.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Solar eclipse on May 20, 2012 as captured from Huntington Beach, CA.
Credit jimnista / Flickr.com

For starters, the eclipse will make for bigger than normal tides, though not the biggest, says Jonathan Fram. He’s with Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmosphere Sciences

“Every two weeks there are spring tides, where the sun and the moon are roughly aligned, although not perfectly aligned like during the eclipse," Fram tells KLCC.  "During those times, the tides are bigger.”  

One change Fram expects to see involves zooplankton.  Helping him watch these tiny aquatic critters are six bio-acoustic sonars along the northwest coast: three in the path of totality, and three outside.

Zooplankton
Credit NOAA Photo Library / Flickr.com

“Every night there’s a large migration of zooplankton up to the sea surface, and then every dawn they go back down to the safety of the darker waters," explains Fram.  "And our expectation is that during the eclipse, they’ll say, “Oh! It’s night time, it’s time to go up to the surface.”  And then we’ll measure them.”

Fram says he’s excited for the eclipse, and its effects on the ocean.  He and other researchers will also monitor light levels and surface temperatures during the celestial event.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.