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GEOL 2503 Introduction to Oceanography

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1 GEOL 2503 Introduction to Oceanography
Topic 22 Plankton GEOL 2503 Introduction to Oceanography

2 Characteristics Floating organisms that drift with currents (although some forms are weak swimmers) Generally microscopic although some forms larger Largest biomass on the planet

3 A micrometer (m) is one millionth of a meter,
one thousandth of a millimeter


5 Reason for small size Related to buoyancy. The smaller an organism the greater the surface area relative to weight Surface area often increased by development of pores or spines Flotation sometimes improved by secretion of low density oil Rely on turbulence to stay afloat

6 Bacterioplankton Kingdom Monera, smallest living organisms. Difficult to capture even with finest net Most abundant organisms (planet & ocean) Live at all ocean depths as free-living decomposers

7 Phytoplankton Floating plants 99.9% of the food source in the oceans
Mainly protista living in epipelagic zone Diatoms—siliceous plants Dinoflagellates—microscopic with flagella for minor locomotion Cocolithophores—calcareous plants

8 Plankton are an energy source for marine ecosystems
Many plankton are primary producers. Over 90% of marine primary production (energy produced) is from phytoplankton! The rest is from marine plants and other sources. Photo: Accessed: November 2010 Photo: NOAA This map shows productivity in the Oceans. Red and yellow are most productive, followed by green and blue. Black is least productive.


10 Coccolithophore: calcareous phytoplankton

11 Diatoms Single celled photosynthetic Protista which secrete small shell of SiO2 Reproduce by cell division until organism becomes too small; then develop auxospore May discolor water during large blooms

12 Marine diatoms as seen through a microscope.
Image ID: corp2365, NOAA At The Ends of the Earth Collection Photographer: Dr. Neil Sullivan, University of Southern Calif.

13 Centric diatoms Chain diatoms

14 Blooms Diatoms and other phytoplankton can divide many times per day producing large blooms that are sometimes visible from space.

15 Dinoflagellates Single celled Protista (most but not all photosynthetic) Naked cell or covering of cellulose Two whip-like flagella allow motility Some forms bioluminescent Blooms responsible for toxic red tides




19 Sargassum--brown algae

20 Zooplankton Floating animals (consumers)
Most abundant in epipelagic zone but also occur in mesopelagic zone Foraminifera—single celled, calcareous Radiolaria—single celled, siliceous Krill—shrimp-like, food for baleen whales Jellyfish—multicellular, colonial

21 Foraminifera & Radiolaria
Microscopic Protista which feed on phytoplankton Foraminifera secrete shell of CaCO3 Radiolaria secrete shell of SiO2

22 Foraminifera—calcareous zooplankton

23 Foraminifer


25 Radiolaria—siliceous zooplankton

26 A living radiolaria

27 Medusa jellyfish

28 Moon Jelly Gelatinous zooplankton common in temperate and tropical waters, stinging cells are not toxic and don’t sting like other jellyfish, 95% water but serve as food for many animals including turtles , feed by producing a sticky mucus that traps other plankton Image ID: reef2547, NOAA's Coral Kingdom Collection Photographer: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Staff Credit: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (moon jelly)

29 Siphonophore

30 Comb jelly

31 Simple crustacean with jointed exoskeleton
Copepod Image ID: fish3229, NOAA's Fisheries Collection Photographer: Matt Wilson/Jay Clark, NOAA NMFS AFSC Simple crustacean with jointed exoskeleton Use enlarged first antenna to swim Among the most common animals on Earth (most abundant of the net zooplankton)

32 Krill Not as abundant as copepods they aggregate into huge, dense schools, prefer colder polar waters, feed on diatoms and solid wastes of other zooplankton, important food for whales, tread water to stay afloat. Image ID: sanc0126, NOAA's Sanctuaries Collection Location: Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Photographer: Jamie Hall

33 Pteropods (mollusks)

34 Holoplankton Regular old plankton
Spend their entire life cycle as plankton Examples include: dinoflagellates, diatoms, foraminifera, krill

35 Meroplankton Planktonic larval stages of animals which are not planktonic as adults Larvae of snails, fish, barnacles, coral, etc. Egg cases

36 Crab Larva Some invertebrates have a whole series of different larval stages Charleston Bump Expedition. Zooplankton. Crab larva. Image ID: expl0215, Voyage To Inner Space - Exploring the Seas With NOAA Collect Location: Southeast of Charleston, South Carolina Photo Date: 2003 August 10 Photographer: Jerry Mclelland Credit: Charleston Bump Expedition NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration; Dr. George Sedberry, South Carolina DNR, Principal Investigator

37 Brittle star larva Skate egg case

38 Octopus Larva Temporary members of the plankton, octopus and squid become nektonic (free swimming) and benthic (crawling). Giant squid are the largest invertebrates in the ocean Zooplankton. Octopus larva. Image ID: fish3612, NOAA's Fisheries Collection Photographer: Matt Wilson/Jay Clark, NOAA NMFS AFSC

39 Barnacle Larva

40 Fish Larvae Image ID: fish3363, NOAA's Fisheries Collection Photographer: Matt Wilson/Jay Clark, NOAA NMFS AFSC Coastal waters are rich in meroplankton (temporary members of the plankton) Nearly all marine fish have planktonic larvae Fish larvae may change from herbivores to carnivores as they grow

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