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Conventional techniques are unsuited for measuring the viscosity of seawater when organisms, particles, or surface-active organic materials are present. We have adapted a fluorescence depolarization technique to measure intrinsic solution viscosity and find that all of the factors listed can influence seawater viscosity. The technique, which determines viscosity by measuring the rotational freedom of fluorochromes added to seawater, is accurate in the presence of seawater particles and organics and requires only small volumes, making it useful for samples taken from locations or under conditions in which influences of viscosity on molecular-scale processes may be important.
Limnology and Oceanography