Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Ocean’s Smallest Plankton Is Often Overlooked And Underestimated


Researchers have highlighted that the smallest plankton in the ocean is the most abundant. Yet these tiny creatures measuring less than 20µm (or 0.02mm) in diameter are often overlooked and very poorly understood.

The main cause of this is that due to their size; they are very hard to identify, which in turn affects how they are treated. In recent studies in UK waters, researchers have shown that these tiny creatures compose 99.98% of plankton abundance, not to mention a whopping 71% of plankton biomass.

According to the lead author of the study, Associate Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Plymouth Dr. Abigail McQuatters-Gollop:

“You hear of phrases like searching for a needle in a haystack, but this takes it to a whole new level. Identifying something that measures 0.02mm in the ocean is an immense challenge, but an increasingly important one at a time of huge environmental pressures. These plankton may be tinier than most people can realistically imagine, but they underpin the entire marine food web and play a critical role in producing the oxygen our planet needs. We need to take this silent majority more seriously.”

 You can find the original research here.

Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life! Sam is a Staff Writer for