Ideas that add up #175

Plankton — the tiny animals, plants and microbes that sustain life in the oceans — are far more diverse than biologists realised, according to the results from a four-year voyage around the world by the research schooner Tara. It found about 150,000 types of plankton, the vast majority unknown to science….

Results from this first global survey of plankton, which appear in five separate papers in the journal Science, will provide a baseline for biologists following the effects of climate change and rising carbon dioxide levels on marine life in decades to come. The entire ocean food web depends on plankton, from small fish and crustaceans up to the whales that extract them by straining vast quantities of seawater. And photosynthetic plankton generate half of the oxygen required to keep the chemistry of the atmosphere in balance.

Marine biology: the secret life of plankton‘ in FT Weekend Magazine, May 30th, 2015

Hmm. So there isn’t actually a minuscule fish-plant called a plankton. Instead, a welter of diverse living things, fizzing away in microscopic oxygen bubbles and kindly keeping the chemistry of the air on a low simmer.

plancton1 (1)

©Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expéditions
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