All EpisodesAll Episodes

Creative Commons Licence :

Attribution Non-Commercial

No Derivative

licence cc

Production CNRS Images

Original Idea

Christian Sardet

Director

Noé Sardet, Sharif Mirshak

Scientific consultant

Claude Carré

Texts

Sasha Bollet, Christian Sardet

Images

Sasha Bollet, Christian Sardet, Noé Sardet, Sharif Mirshak

Editing

Noé Sardet, Sharif Mirshak

Narration

Nick Storey

Sound engineer

Noé Sardet, Sharif Mirshak

Director of production

Véronique Kleiner

Production assistant

Céline Ferlita

Translation

Theodore Rosengarten

Plankton

time 02:02

Plankton are a multitude of living organisms adrift in the currents.
Our food, our fuel, and the air we breathe originate in plankton.

Photo Gallery

Narration

Plankton comes from the Greek word planktos, which means wandering or drifting.  Any living creature carried along by ocean currents is classified as plankton. It ranges in size from the tiniest virus to siphonophores, the longest animals in the world, and also includes microscopic algae, krill or fish larvae.

Some plankton, like these jellyfish, salps, or sea gooseberries, drift all their lives.  Others like pteropod molluscs and fish are only planktonic during their embryonic or larval life. When they reach adulthood, they settle or swim freely. 

Planktonic organisms play important roles in human life.  Many microscopic species get their energy from photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Thus, they constantly renew the air we breathe.

Plankton has also been a great provider of fossil energy.  When planktonic organisms die, they sink to the sea-bed creating a layer of sediment.  Over millions of years, this sediment fossilized, producing our precious oil. 

Finally, plankton nourishes us: it is the basis of the food chain in which the large eat the small.  Without plankton, there would be no fish! 

In this episode

Cnidarians

Pelagia / Pelagia noctiluca
Anthozoan larva
Velella larva / Velella velella
Clytia / Clytia hemispherica
Siphonophore

Protists

Radiolarian / Collozum inerme
Radiolarian / Aulacantha scolymantha
Acantharian / Lithoptera mulleri
Centric diatom
Dinoflagellate / Pyrocystis elegans

Ctenophores

Beroe / Beroe ovata
Leucothea / Leucothea multicornis

Echinoderm

Sea urchin larvae / Paracentrotus lividus

Crustaceans

Phronima

Tunicates

Salp
Appendiculaire

Mollusks

Gymnosome / Pneumodermopsis paucidens
Veliger larva

Plankton

Fish larvae
Annelid larva

RELATED VIDEOS

Siphonophores

The longest animals on the planet

Clytia

A Laboratory Favorite