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Schooling Activity is Alive and Well on the South End of Molasses

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A Marine Life Series Column focusing on schooling activity as described in scientific literature and observed on Molasses Reef in the Florida Key

Lots of reasons are given for the collective behavior of schooling. There is a whole host of scientific literature to study on the topic. Schooling occurs in up to eighty percent of species at some point in their lifetime. Protection from predators, breeding and searching for food are the top reasons cited for schooling behavior. There is also an advantage in riding the vortices created by the swimming motion of the fishes themselves - sort of like a race car driver drafting behind the car in front of him.On the other side of the coin, schooling can be a disadvantage, as certain predators, like dolphins and sailfish, target the schools in their hunting. And of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the fishing industry and its use of technology to locate and catch schools of fish with commercial food value.Early behavior pattern studies have emerged into a significant body of science on lateral line development. In some of what I read, schooling behavior is closely correlated with the development of the lateral line organs in fish. The lateral lines have several functions that are spatial in nature - ever wonder why the fish are spaced evenly in a school? It’s the lateral line sensitivity that defines that space, as well as vision.

About the author

Tim Grollimund

Tim is based in Key Largo, Florida. He wrote the scuba diving column for the local newspaper, The Reporter, for over three years, and also served as a Working Group member and Alternate Representative on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. His ebooks are all based on his newspaper columns. Each ebook has a collection of underwater images shot by Tim. The ebooks cover a wide range of marine life species and ocean conservation topics.

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