One doesn’t usually think of water as a pattern in Nature. But when you stop to think about it, waterfalls, rushing streams, ocean waves, and the ripples in quiet lakes are interesting and sometimes breathtaking visual patterns. And, of course, the phenomena that drive these patterns are patterns in themselves.
Within the beauty created by water are currents — the flow of water. In the oceans of the world, many life forms, patterns themselves, connect with that flow. Usually unseen, flow patterns are profoundly important to Nature’s well being.
Take the Antarctic Convergence as an example. This is a fancy name for a juncture where four major ocean currents are connected. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current , another pattern in Nature, flows from west to east as it circles around Antarctica. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current connects to the currents of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and serves as the principle means of exchange between these bodies of water. It also helps preserve the ice sheet on the Antarctic continent by buffering the continent from the warmer currents to the north.
The line where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current connects with the northern currents is called the Antarctic Convergence. The complicated current flow along this line results in an upwelling and mixing of detritus nutrients from the ocean floor. The garbage of the sea is recycled. This pattern results in very nutrient rich waters that result in a network of life that biologists call a “food chain”. The area is very rich in krill which is the keystone food source. So, many patterns in Nature, creatures who frequent the area, are nourished from this joining of ocean currents.
If you visit the Falklands or South Georgia Island, islands close to the convergence, the results of water flow are obvious on a grand scale. Huge numbers of penguins, seals, sea lions, and marine birds rest and procreate here. But very few live on these islands. Instead, their life is at sea where they are intimately connected to the riches produced by the convergence of some our planet’s largest bodies of water.
And for us, this massive network of patterns in Nature is a lesson in respect and reverence for the fact that we are all connected.
My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.