Ballet of the Water Pancakes

Freshwater marsh

Freshwater marsh

As the video –      https://youtu.be/n134lSA18h8     - begins, note the layered character of the herbaceous plant canopy.  Some water lily leaves (Nelumbo lutea) float on the water surface while others are held erect one to three feet above the surface.  The water surface appears to be shaded between 100% and 200% by the outlines of these leaves.

Multi-layered herbaceous canopy

Multi-layered herbaceous canopy

The water repellent character of the leaf surfaces and the water properties of adhesion to a surface, cohesion between water molecules, and surface tension combine to create the flat pancakes of water.

Nelumbo lutea leaves

Nelumbo lutea leaves

The movements of these water pancakes induced by slight to moderate breezes create an excellent opportunity to study water menisci phenomena associated with the interaction of the water and leaf surface properties.

Water pancake on water lily leaf

Water pancake on water lily leaf

These water pancakes probably create their own set of environmental conditions associated with evaporation, light, and heating influences that may constitute unique habitats for tiny aquatic organisms.

An unusual aquatic habitat

An unusual aquatic habitat

As one result, these water pancakes may serve as satellites orbiting the primary aquatic ecosystem of the marsh below.

The dances of these water pancakes are thus interesting to contemplate, fun to watch, and demonstrate the art of science.

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