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9 of the world's largest animal swarms

Dec. 23, 2013, 1:07 p.m.
school of herring

Photo: Leonardo Gonzalez/Shutterstock

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Let's get together

Animal swarms are awe-inspiring, bewildering, mesmerizing ... sometimes even hair-raising. There are few events in nature more mystifying. There's just something hypnotic about the way that swarms move in concert, as if each individual within has forsaken its own agency and become part of a whole, like the herring shown here. Observing a swarm from afar can even give the impression of a collective consciousness — that the swarm itself has a mind of its own.

Most animals exhibit swarm behavior in some form, but it's the world's largest swarms that capture the imagination. (Text: Bryan Nelson)