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Plankton is the floating world of the oceans. And so are the creatures in this world as they do not have the possibility to swim against the tidal forces or the currents and thus are being drifted. Nobody knows where the journey will bring them. And size doesn’t matter. A human in the sea has also to be regarded as „plankton“, as he wouldn’t be able to swim against the prevailing currents. So, welcome to the world of plankton!
Some of our co-habitants on Fuerteventura are viruses and bacteria. The viruses are abundant with about 100 million/millilitre (about a teaspoon). But they are harmless to man. Micro algae are the most important species of plankton. They are the beginning and the end of Life. They do dominate marine life and are involved in a daily ballet. In the morning they surface to collect sun rays for their photo synthesis and at dawn they return to the quieter and deeper layers. This photo synthesis based behaviour creates life stock for fish and other marine inhabitants. And they are responsible for every second molecule of oxygen on this planet! This is a truly impressive performance for such micro cellular creatures. In times of climate change one also should mention their ability to capture much carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and hold it, even after their death, when they sink to the bottom of the seas.
If you would ask whales, then little crabs and crustaceans, like krill, would be on top of the list of plankton because whales need immense amounts of these creatures to feed on and to create reserves for their trip through Antarctica, where they mate.
But there are not only “permanent residents” in the kingdom of plankton. Many juveniles or larvae of fish and other marine life forms are temporary members of the plankton community. Only when they have reached a certain size and collected enough energy, they switch to the kingdom of active swimmers and start their journey through the oceans, even against the current.
Dr. A. Lüdeking