The Artful Amoeba

The Artful Amoeba

A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on Earth

A Closer Look at a Tiny, Floating Horde


To find out what these grow up to be, watch the video below. Image by Richard Kirby; used with permission.

It's a strange but true fact that the young of many familiar sea creatures look nothing like them. Drifting on currents to distribute their kind, they are an unsung part of the plankton, itself an unsung part of the sea.

A few years back, I wrote about the work of Richard Kirby, a research fellow with the Marine Institute at Plymouth University in England who also takes stunning photographs of plankton to share the hidden world he studies with the rest of us. To that end, he's composed a book of his photographs, and this past year he also launched a citizen science project that encourages seafarers to build a simple tool for measuring plankton abundance, dip it into the ocean, and report what they find.

Now he has released a 16-minute HD film based in part on his photographs that seeks to pack a primer on plankton into a bite-sized morsel. The narrator? Sir David Attenborough.

The movie begins with some stories you may already know. Even if you do, stick around – the last half of this short film relates some fascinating stories about those strange juvenile animals I mentioned that you probably don't, and won't want to miss. Oh, and see that little starburst of arrows to the left of the word vimeo below? You definitely want to hit that before you hit play.

Ocean Drifters from Plymouth University on Vimeo.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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