Ocean spin cycle traps hapless pufferfish.

Oh little pufferfish. Your tiny little fins are no match for a mini-ocean maelstrom. You and your buddy are trapped in a small ocean vortex that keeps spinning you around and around. Other fish just idly swim by watching your sad little tumbles. I’ll admit your awkward rolls made me chuckle.

Although the narrator claims the vortex happens at the interface of the warm Equatorial Current and the cold California current, it’s probably caused by more local process such as upwelling or tides along the reef edge where this was filmed. I would guess this vortex is usually invisible, but can be seen here because it captured the bubbles emitted from the videographers dive gear. And this train of captured air bubbles shows that it is a very, very long vortex. If bubbles are trapped in the vortex, there are probably small fish and plankton in there too. I bet that’s why the other bigger fish are hanging around, easy snacking on fluid dynamics induced food balls. Let’s just hope this eddy dissipates soon and you and your ungainly puffer-friends can eventually escape to a less dizzy life.

Descent into the Maelstrom by Harry Clark (1919)

Illustration for Edgar Allen Poe’s Descent into the Maelstrom by Harry Clark (1919)

Dr. Martini (151 Posts)

Kim is a Senior Oceanographer at Sea-Bird Scientific. She received her Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Washington in 2010. Her goal in life is to throw expensive s**t in the ocean. When not at sea, she has used observations from moored, satellite and land-based instruments to understand the pathways that wind and tidal energy take from large (internal tides) to small scales (turbulence). Her current mission is to make your oceanographic data be the best data it can be.


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One comment on “Ocean spin cycle traps hapless pufferfish.
  1. Oh geez I feel so bad for that little dude haha. That’s kind of hilarious though. Do fish get dizzy? I’d love to see the video of what it did and what kind of zig zaggy path it swam after it was finally free.

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