plankton biology
Video captures moment plastic enters food chain - BBC News
A video captures the moment plankton ingest a plastic microfibre.

A scientist has filmed the moment plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, illustrating how the material is affecting life beneath the waves.

The footage shows one way that waste plastic could be entering the marine and global food chain.

An estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic “disappears” from the world’s waste stream each year.

Waste plastic in the world’s seas has been recognised by the United Nations as a major environmental problem.

“When I saw it, I thought that here was something, visually, to convey to the public the problem of plastic in the sea,” said Richard Kirby, who recorded the footage.

“What intrigues me is that because the fibre has made a loop inside the animal’s gut, you can actually see the consequences of something as small as the arrow worm consuming microplastic.”


From Drifter to Dynamo: The Story of Plankton

Most plankton are tiny drifters, wandering in a vast ocean. But where wind and currents converge they become part of a grander story… an explosion of vitality that affects all life on Earth, including our own. Watch the latest “Deep Look” video from KQED and pbsdigitalstudios:


One more Plankton Panel. From top to bottom:

1. Freshwater Phytoplankton, mainly Diatoms and Dinoflagellates / from Lake Chuzenji, Nikko, Tochigi Pref., Japan / Microscope:Leica DMRD (DIC)  (CC BY-SA 2.5)

2. Assorted diatoms as seen through a microscope. These specimens were living between crystals of annual sea ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Image digitized from original 35mm Ektachrome slide. These tiny phytoplankton are encased within a silicate cell wall. (Public Domain - NOAA)

3.  Phytoplankton - the foundation of the oceanic food chain. (Public Domain - NOAA)


Caused by the bio luminescence of phytoplankton, this natural phenomenon occurs when a particular species becomes stressed. It is thought to be used as a defense mechanism, with the phytoplankton spraying glowing goo at potential predators.

Tourists flock to this specific area of the Maldives to see the ocean light up like the stars.

- Konner

(Images and information from The Independent)

Microscope Monday: Dinoflagellates Unite

How many creatures do you see moving through the water? If at first glance it looks like just one, don’t be deceived. This dinoflagellate, called Polykrikos hartmanii, forms “pseudocolonies,” in which several individual organisms (called zooids) are joined together, hunting for other dinoflagellates to feed on. A single pseudocolony can contain anywhere from 4 to 16 individuals. It’s thought that these pseudocolonies form because of incomplete cell division: Another nucleus forms, but the new cell doesn’t break off. (Video: Tim Mullady)

New illustration in my Food Chain series. 

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Plankton poop could be spreading plastic waste across the oceans

Researchers at the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory concluded that the organisms, known as zooplankton commonly ingest tiny plastic particles, which inevitably makes their way to their feces, reported The tiny organisms, among the most abundant things in Earth’s oceans, are part of the building blocks of life, and any human-caused disruptions to their diet have scientists concerned.

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