Microscopic Plankton Are The Original Nature’s Oxygen Producers Which Replenish The Biosphere

Plankton are organisms that drift in the pelagic zone of the world oceans and seas, as well as large bodies of fresh water. Plankton are commonly thought of as microscopic in size. However, from a scientific classification perspective, the size of planktic organisms varies enormously. It may surprise some people to learn that the species covers a wide range of organisms, including jellyfish. The singular form is plankter.

They are a rich, important source of nutrient for a large number of bigger organisms, including many cetaceans and fish. The whale shark, the largest mammal in the world, feeds only on plankton, one of the most microscopic creatures in the world.

Most of these organisms are not capable of affecting the direction of their drift. Their drift track is determined by the flow of water. Their name is derived from the Greek adjective (not noun) planktos meaning errant, wanderer or drifter. The forms of plankter that are capable of independent movement can only purposefully swim vertically. The correct adjectival form is planktic, not planktonic.

Most of these organisms cannot move independently of the water in which they are immersed. For the most part, they usually cannot control their drift direction. Their drift is set by the prevailing current. The forms of the organism capable of independent movement can only swim vertically, not horizontally against the current. The vertical movement can be quite large, amounting to hundreds of meters in a day.

Most forms of the organism spend their whole life as a plankter. This type of organism are referred to as holoplankton. By contrast, another type of the organism spend only part of their life in planktic form before transforming to another type of organism. This type are referred to as meroplankton. These creatures transform to a creatures that inhabit either the benthic or nektic zone. Examples of meroplankton creatures include the eggs of crustaceans, marine worms, starfish, sea urchins and most fish.

The spatial distribution and organic abundance of plankton is affected primarily by a large number of variables including the concentration of nutrients in the water, water temperature, the amount of plankton pre-existing in the water, the composition of water plus the current direction and speed.

Learn more about plankton types in our comprehensive information site to all you need to know about marine phytoplankton and plaktology plus marine sciences .

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