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At night, tiny marine animals such as Arctic zooplanktons continue to migrate using the light from the moon, a new study confirms. Moonlight drives the migration of marine animals through permanently dark and frigid Arctic winter.

In the study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, researchers reported the surprising discovery that marine creatures are busy even during the cold dark winter months. Even in the absence of sunlight, the moon guides the migration of these little aquatic animals.

Based on data gathered from moored acoustic instruments, wintertime lunar vertical migration (LVM) was found to be controlled by the moon's phase and altitude above the horizon. It occurs not only in portions, but across the whole Arctic Ocean.

The researchers also found a mass of zooplankton from the surface waters sinking to 50 meters (164 feet) every 29.5 days during winter, which coincides with the full moon. They also observed that instead of following the 24-hour solar day, marine animals shifted to the 24.8-hour lunar day.

Moonlight was speculated to play a major role in structuring predator-prey interactions during winter. The behavior is most likely an attempt by tiny marine animals like zooplanktons to avert predator hunting by moonlight.

Read More: Techtimes

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