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diagram of how copepods aggregate in the Great South Channel

The Great South Channel

Around this time of year, whales and other marine animals find rich feeding areas in the Great South Channel, an undersea canyon between shallower Nantucket Shoals and Georges Bank. Scientists think several factors combine to create these vital feeding areas, including currents, winds, tides, and the bathymetry of the seafloor. MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate student Nick Woods has been pursuing a hypothesis that a relatively fresh coastal current, flowing south along the New England coast, brings an abundance of zooplankton called copepods to the channel. There, the current collides with saltier, denser water to form an ocean front. The copepods aggregate in dense patches along the front, creating a buffet for larger predators. (Illustration by Amy Caracappa-Qubeck, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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