Mono Lake Brine Flies Make Air “Submarines” To Survive Toxic Lake

By on January 22, 2016

This brine fly coats itself with air as it heads underwater. (Credit: Floris van Breugel)

It’s not easy being a fly, what with all the creatures out there that always want you to go away. But for the brine flies that live near California’s Mono Lake, the worry isn’t so much predatory creatures, but instead the lake that could most easily kill them. That’s because of its high levels of salt, so high that they make inhabitation by other creatures impossible.

But the innovative brine flies have a weapon for survival that others simply don’t: an air submarine that they make to survive. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have observed the methods that the flies use to make the air subs, according to a post in Science Magazine. The results of the adaptation are quite remarkable, allowing the flies to dive up to 2 meters beneath the surface to find food or lay eggs.

More interesting still is the precision with which the flies have to make the air pockets around their bodies. If angles of descent are wrong, or the air bubble pops in the wrong way, the brine fly relying on it for protection will most likely die.

Top image: This brine fly coats itself with air as it heads underwater. (Credit: Floris van Breugel)

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