Marine Biology

, Volume 138, Issue 4, pp 669–677

The speed of an isolume: a shrimp's eye view


  • E. A. Widder
    • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Fort Pierce, FL 34946, USA Tel.: +1-800-3334264315; Fax: +1-561-4680757 e-mail:
  • T. M. Frank
    • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Fort Pierce, FL 34946, USA Tel.: +1-800-3334264315; Fax: +1-561-4680757 e-mail:

DOI: 10.1007/s002270000504

Cite this article as:
Widder, E. & Frank, T. Marine Biology (2001) 138: 669. doi:10.1007/s002270000504


Using data from electroretinogram recordings, we designed a submersible light meter with a spectral luminous efficiency comparable to that of a vertically migrating shrimp. Using this light meter on the “Johnson Sea Link” submersible, we were able to ascend with the isolumes (preferred light levels) associated with the sergestid and euphausiid shrimp layers. The speed of the submersible's movement was recorded and correlated with simultaneous measurements of surface irradiance. In situ measurements of the downwelling spectral distribution were also made with a fiber optic spectrometer. The average measured speed of the sergestid isolume was 8.8 cm s−1, while that of the shallower euphausiid isolume was 6.7 cm s−1. These values are different from those calculated using average diffuse attenuation coefficients and surface light measurements. This difference was due to the broadening of the spectral distribution of downwelling light above 120 m and to the variability of the diffuse attenuation coefficients with depth. These results clearly demonstrate that when investigating the relationship between light and vertical migration patterns, it is important that: (1) the light measurements be made in situ and (2) such measurements take into account the spectral sensitivity of the eyes of the migrators.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001