Even tiny ocean animals get soused—and not just in seawater.
A common species of plankton in the northern Atlantic Ocean becomes intoxicated when it slurps up toxic algae, a new study says.
And just like drunk partygoers, “drunk” plankton take questionable risks.
In contrast to the wobbly gait of inebriated people, plankton under the influence swim faster and on a straighter path, making them more susceptible to predators.
The tiny animals swam an average of 25 percent faster, and, rather than darting around, they swam in relatively straight lines.
By swimming faster, the copepods swim past more fish larvae and other potential predators. They also make a bigger wake, which can attract attention.
This intoxicated swimming makes them 25 to 55 percent more likely to run into a predator, the scientists estimate in an April 27 study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
photo: David Liittschwager, National Geographic Creative