Nature Notebook – Bubbles in Nature

Bubbles were the focus of a recent kids’ class. After studying the numerous spittlebugs on the grasses and goldenrods, they simulated the production of the bugs’ coat of bubbles. They also learned that many species of adult aquatic insects, which need oxygen from the air not water, carry air bubbles on their bodies.

Bubbles are also handy tools for hunting. The star-nosed mole breathes out bubbles in the water then inhales them. When they are inhaled, the bubbles bring along the scents of worms or fish and the mole knows that lunch is nearby. Humpback whales form bubble nets to force fish into a small space. The whales then swim through this space with their jaws wide open scooping up mouthfuls of food.

The pistol shrimp snaps its specialized claw to squirt water. The water moves so rapidly that it forms a bubble that just as rapidly collapses. This process is so fast that it produces a sound loud enough to disrupt submarine sonar and stun its prey.

And, finally, the children played with bubbles just because it’s fun…just like dolphins!