This video was filmed on Thursday, June 23rd at the 2011 National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Kakani Katija is a 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She studies the impact of the movement of marine animals on the world's oceans and ocean currents. Kakani explains the focus of a bioengineer: "We learn from what nature is doing and think of how we can apply that to technology in the future."


  • Introduction: From aerospace engineer to marine scientist (start-1:37 min.)
  • Understanding how jellyfish swim using fluid mechanics (1:38-2:59 min.)
  • In the lab: Studying how animals swim with lasers (3:00-4:33 min.)
  • Model: Capturing fluid movement in photos (4:34-5:20 min.)
  • Self-Contained Underwater Velocimetry Apparatus (SCUVA) (5:21-6:39 min.)
  • Video: Experiencing SCUVA in Action (6:40-7:46 min.)
  • A research question: Do swimming animals impact ocean currents? (7:47-10:14 min)
  • About Copepods: characteristics, behavior, and migrations (10:15-11:36 min.)
  • How do aquatic animals mix water? (11:37-12:38 min.)
  • Implications: The frontiers of science (12:39-13:56 min.)
  • The Big Picture Idea: Can swimming animals affect our world? (13:57-15:40 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts and opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?


animal migration

process where a community of animals leaves a habitat for part of the year or part of their lives, and moves to habitats that are more hospitable.


steady, predictable flow of fluid within a larger body of that fluid.

Emerging Explorer

an adventurer, scientist, innovator, or storyteller recognized by National Geographic for their visionary work while still early in their careers.


the art and science of building, maintaining, moving, and demolishing structures.

fluid dynamics

study of fluids in motion.


type of marine animal, not a fish, with a soft body and stinging tentacles.


large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.


measurement of the rate and direction of change in the position of an object.

vortex ring

doughnut-shaped ring of fluid that moves within the same or a different fluid, such as smoke rings. Also called a toroidal vortex