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Feb 19, 2016 02:23 PM EST

Sea Snail Observed Swimming Through the Water Like a Flying Bee


A newly discovered species of sea snail was observed swimming through the water akin to how a bee flies through the air.

Published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the new study detailed a sea snail species called Limacina helicina, or "sea butterfly." The researchers tracked the snail's strange movements with high-speed cameras.

"Most zooplankton swim with a drag-based paddling technique," study lead author David Murphy, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said in a press release. "You have to ship them overnight in an insulated cooler to keep them cold and if the water is too dirty particles will stick to them, so the water has to be very clean."

According to BBC News, the researchers dubbed their method for capturing the snail's movements "tomographic particle image velocimetry," which entailed four high-speed cameras tracking movement with lasers.

"The 'aha' moment came when I'd spent a few months tracking the wing tips, relative to the body," Murphy told BBC News. "I was putting all of this information into my code and finally it came out with this plot - and I saw this beautiful figure-of-eight pattern, which I immediately recognized as something more like what a fruit fly does.

"And then what really convinced me, finally, was the flow information. It turns out they use one of the same tricks, to generate lift, that really tiny insects do."

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