From Northeastern News–
Researchers make key observation about animal behavior patterns
March 26, 2009
Northeastern University and MIT researchers have observed—for the first time—the origin of a mass gathering and the subsequent migration of hundreds of millions of animals. Utilizing a new imaging technology invented by the researchers, they were able to instantaneously image and continuously monitor entire shoals of fish containing hundreds of millions of individuals stretching for tens of kilometers off Georges Bank near Boston.
They found that once large shoals of Atlantic herring reach a critical population density, a “chain reaction” triggers the synchronized movement of millions of individual fish over a large area. The phenomenon is akin to a human “wave” moving in a sports stadium. They also observed that the fish “commute” to the shallower waters of the bank, where they spawn in the darkness, then return to deeper water and disband the following morning.
The findings, published in the latest issue of Science, confirm general theories about the behavior of large groups of animals that, until now, had not been verified in nature. Previously, these theories for diverse animal groups, ranging from flocks of birds to swarms of locusts, had only been tested with computer simulations and laboratory experiments.
“As far as we know, this is the first time we’ve quantified this behavior in nature and over such a huge ecosystem,” said Nicholas C. Makris, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering at MIT, who co-led this project with Northeastern professor Purnima Ratilal.
I’m asking myself “is this really news or some type of discovery?”
Any fisherman who has looked down on a school of fish from up above can tell you this. From the dock when you see the little schools of baby mackerel and as soon as the lead fish turns the entire school turns the same direction in wave-like fashion.
These scientists must have been from the midwest or something because anyone that has spent any amount of time as a fisherman could have told you this for centuries.
They coulda bought me lunch and saved themselves a whole lot of research dollars. I would have told them, LOL
Eagerly awaiting what Doug Maxfield (the maniac that writes my favorite blog) has to say about this.
File under: Duh!,Captain Obvious Awards