A recent study describes the impressive multiple jet colony movement pattern displayed by jellyfish-like species called Nanomia bijuga.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Oregon and Stanford University and led by Providence College’s John H. Costello and it was published in the scientific journal Nature Communication.
They focused on Nanomia bijuga, a species of siphonophore that displays a very interesting formation that they group in during their predatory activities. The older individuals place themselves at the bottom of the formation because they can offer significant propulsion to the entire colony. They younglings place themselves at the top of the formation and they essentially lead the entire predatory apparatus.
“It’s a quite sophisticated design, for what would seem like a simple arrangement” says John H. Costello.
This type of group alignment enables the siphonophores to maintain their lifestyle. It is important that they remain at the bottom of the ocean during the day, so that they can avoid larger predators that might put them in danger, but at night time, when it’s relatively safer, they need to make their way to the top, so that they can feed.
N. bijunga feeds on plankton as well as a wide variety of minute organisms that they can find and therefore, they are essentially predators. Their colonies are an impressive example of the benefits of teamwork, as they can travel up to 656 feet together, which would be impossible to achieve by a single individual, especially by a young one.
The young individuals have a important role in steering the entire colony, and especially in the way that the entire formation turns. Costello describes them “as a long lever arm” and points out that they have a crucial role in this movement pattern.
The particularities of this movement pattern will likely inspire scientists to develop newer and more efficient underwater vehicles. Nature has always been an extremely valuable source of inspiration for the scientific community, as numerous devices that we use every day have been developed after observing the outstanding diversity of the natural world.