Surveys the variety of plants and animals comprising the ocean's plankton community. Explains their complex food webs.
Plankton gives the viewer an underwater look at the mysterious varieties of plants and animals that make up the ocean’s teeming mass of “plankton soup.’’ These drifting organisms, many of them invisible to the naked eye, comprise the essential link in the ocean’s food chains. Without them, our oceans would be virtually lifeless.
Drifting plants (phytoplankton) are the most abundant forms of plankton. These fantastic miniature chemical factories use energy from the sun to transform inorganic material into life-supporting substances, which are stored in their tissues. Such plants, directly or indirectly,
support most marine animal life.
Planktonic animals (zooplankton) consume planktonic plants. These animals, such as radiolarians, pteropods, and copepods, are in turn food for the larger creatures in the ocean. You’ll see the Amphinema jellyfish, also a planktonic animal, capture and digest the larva of a marine worm. Most zooplankton sink into the darkness of the ocean by day and migrate toward the surface at night, a behavioral phenomenon still under study.
Some zooplankton are actually the larvae of large, familiar sea animals. Because the larval forms of such animals are so different from their adult forms, many were once thought to be separate, unrelated species. In the film you will watch the minute larvae of crabs and barnacles develop into their adult forms.
Plankton, diverse in size and shape and vital to all that lives in or comes from the earth’s vast seas, are continuing mysteries to the scientists who study them.