Sea butterflies fly through water like insects do in air (VIDEO).

The Sea Butterfly "Flies" Through Water Like Insects Do in the Air (Video)

The Sea Butterfly "Flies" Through Water Like Insects Do in the Air (Video)

Slate in motion.
Feb. 21 2016 1:33 PM

The Sea Butterfly’s Underwater Flight

High-speed footage shows their insect moniker is apt.

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Journal of Experimental Biology.

Sea butterflies are graceful little snails that use their protruding bodies as wing-like lobes to “fly” through the water instead of as a foot to crawl along the ground. Scientists writing in the Journal of Experimental Biology captured the snails’ movement with four high-speed cameras and found they move their wings much the same way small insects would: namely, the figure-eight looking clap-and-fling mechanism.

The researchers' footage could help us better understand insect flight, which is hard to track because bugs flap their wings a blistering 200 beats per second. Sea butterflies’ wings beat at a more reasonable five beats per second.