New study sheds light on ocean surface slicks and their ecological impact

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“Ocean features called surface slicks are an interconnected highway of nursery habitat for more than 100 species of baby fishes, study finds[…] The people of Hawai‘i have long recognized slicks as an important part of the seascape. The traditional Hawaiian mele (song), Kona Kai `Ōpua, references the “Ke kai ma`oki`oki,” or “the streaked sea,”in the peaceful seas of Kona. Despite these historical observations, scientists have only recently begun to understand the biological and ecological importance of surface slicks .

A new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, reveals that surface slicks are biodiversity hotspots that provide rich oases for baby fish and invertebrates. Until now, the ecological impact of slicks has not been extensively studied in tropical regions like Hawai‘i. This new research shows these conspicuous phenomena hold more ecological value than meets the eye.”

Click here to learn more from the NOAA Fisheries – Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Image of many small, juvenile fish imposed under an ocean surface slick
“Our study demonstrates that surface slicks provide nursery habitat for diverse marine larvae including at least 112 species of commercially and ecologically important fishes from several ecosystems,” said lead author of the study Dr. Jonathan Whitney, a research marine ecologist for NOAA.