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:
How ancient plankton decides today's elections.

“The Deep South had a shoreline that curled through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and there, in the shallow waters just offshore, were immense populations of floating, single-celled creatures who drifted about, trapped sunshine, captured carbon, then died and sank to the sea bottom. Those creatures became long stretches of nutritious chalk. 

When sea levels dropped and North America took on its modern shape, those ancient beaches — so alkaline, porous and rich with organic material — became a "black belt” of rich soil, running right through the South.

The part of the country possessing this thick, dark and naturally rich soil was, of course, the part of the South where the slaves were most profitable, and consequently they were taken there in the largest numbers"

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)


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)


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)

  • What I say: I'm fine!
  • What I mean: Am I the only one who's ever bothered by what Plankton from Spongebob is actually supposed to be? Like, everyone else in this universe is determined at least down to the family, but Plankton is the only one whose name is only a paraphyletic taxon. I mean, even Mr. Krabs, who's said to be a hybrid of a crab and a prawn (I think) at least remains in the class of crustaceans. And Plankton's colour furthermore implies that he's phytoplankton, which would make him the only non-animalistic character to show consciousness, the only plant that talks and thinks. Also has it never struck him that he is capable of asexual reproduction and despite having a whale's dad for a nemesis, he is never threatened by the food chain at all? If he wanted the secret formula so badly, he could've easily created tons of replicas of himself and thrown over all of Bikini Bottom and more. Like, I know it's a cartoon where the protagonist makes a fire underwater, but for Christ"s sake! Stephen Hillenburg is a marine biologist, what was he thinking?!

Happy Phycology Friday! This week’s featured friend is Noctiluca scintillans, a species of bioluminescent dinoflagellate 💙 their bioluminescence is visible when the water they are in is disturbed, and is produced by chemical reactions within organelles called scintillons. These guys definitely brighten my day 😂