Invisible comet tails of mucus slow sinking flakes of ‘marine snow’

The particles play a big role in sequestering carbon deep within the ocean

Flakes of marine snow fall in the ocean surrounding a dumbo octopus.

Flakes of detritus called “marine snow” fall in the ocean, shown here along with a dumbo octopus.


WASHINGTON — Tiny, sinking flakes of detritus in the ocean fall more slowly thanks to the goop that surrounds each flake, new observations reveal.

The invisible mucus makes “comet tails” that surround each flake, physicist Rahul Chajwa of Stanford University reported November 19 at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting.