Thursday, February 14, 2013


Five things I learned about plankton this week include:
  • There are two different types of phytoplankton, diatoms and dinoflagellates, diatoms being the number one food source of zooplankton and dinoflagellates being the second most important food source. 

  • 80% of the earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton. Scientists had previously thought that most of the earth's oxygen was produced from the Amazon Rainforest, however, once scientists studied the ocean, they figured out that only a small portion of the earth's oxygen was produced from the Amazon Rainforest.
  • Jellyfish are in fact plankton, classified as megaplankton. Even though jellyfish are almost strong enough swimmers to be considered Nekton, they're at mercy of the currents and some like the Portuguese Man-Of-War use air filled floats to stay afloat which causes them to be classified as megaplankton. 

  • That plankton are able to control their position in the sea by using spikes, producing oil, or using air filled floats. Although they have these techniques, plankton are still not able to fully control their movements and are carried around the ocean waves.

  • Dinoflagellates are responsible for red tides causing fish mortality and paralytic shellfish poisoning. Some plankton blooms can pose serious health risks for humans and marine wildlife. Fish living in bloom-affected areas eat the poisonous plankton, which is then passed down the food chain to larger fish and eventually to humans. Cultures which consume seafood as a staple part of their diet, i.e. Japan, are particularly at risk. However, only a few dozen of the thousands of phytoplankton species are known to be toxic.
 - Victoria Mehlhaff -

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