Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Estuaries

Plankton

Home | Start Here | Watershed | Waves & Tides | Plankton | Detritus & Bacteria | Plants | Animals | Humans | Inputs & Outputs | Experts Only | For Fun | Evaluation | Teachers | Photos
Plankton - Part 1
Open your notebook to a new page. Label the page with today's date and the title "Plankton."
 
Write down everything you know about plankton, and then any questions you have about plankton.
 
After that, click on the Nature Works and Enchanted Learning links below to read about plankton. Write down at least two things that you learned about plankton. If any of your questions were answered, be sure to write down the answers, too!

plankton.jpg
Plankton (Wikipedia)

Horizontal Divider 1

Plankton - Part 2:
Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton are tiny plants floating in the water - they are so small that you need a microscope to see them. Click on the links below to look at some pictures of phytoplankton. In your notebook, write the title "Phytoplankton" on a new page along with the date. Write down your observations about what you see. Draw one type of phytoplankton in your notebook (be sure to label it).

Phytoplankton bloom at certain times of the year when conditions are right for them. Here is a satellite picture taken from space showing a plankton bloom around the tip of Florida. The green part is the phytoplankton. In your notebook, write down why you think it looks green from space. (Click on the picture to see more phytoplankton blooms from space.)

floridaplanktonbloom.jpg
Phytoplankton Bloom

Have you ever heard of photosynthesis? Write down what you already know in your notebook.
 
Then, click on the links below to read more about photosynthesis:

Answer these questions about photosynthesis in your notebook:
  1. What does a plant need to take into itself in order for photosynthesis to happen?
  2. What does a plant release when photosynthesis is completed?
  3. What does this tell you about how phytoplankton get their food?

Think about it....
Half of the world's oxygen comes from photosynthesis by phytoplankton. What does this mean for the estuary system? What does this mean for humans? Write your answers in your notebook.

Horizontal Divider 1

Phytoplankton (Diatoms)
diatomsfromroftheplankton.jpg
copyright Still Hope Productions, Inc 2004

Plankton - Part 3:
Zooplankton

Zooplankton are tiny animals floating in the water -some are so small that you need a microscope to see them. Click on the links below to look at some pictures of zooplankton. In your notebook, write the title "Zooplankton" on a new page along with the date. Write down your observations about what you see. Draw one type of zooplankton in your notebook (be sure to label it).
 
Looking at these pictures, do you notice any similarities to phytoplankton? How about any differences? Be sure to write these down in your notebook, also.

It's hard to imagine that all these little critters can be swimming in water but we can't see them, isn't it? One way that you can tell they are there is by looking at the animals that eat plankton. If you click on the link below, you will see some acorn barnacles. Watch their feathery feet brush through the water. They are catching plankton to eat. Even though you can't see the plankton, you can tell that the barnacles are eating something!

Barnacle Video - Monterey Bay Aquarium

In your notebook, draw a barnacle eating plankton. Be sure to label your diagram.

Horizontal Divider 1

Plankton - Part 4:
Effects on Plankton

Phytoplankton are eaten by zooplankton.
Zooplankton are eaten by many things; small fish, barnacles, clams and oysters, shrimp, and even some kind of whales. Everything that lives in the estuary relies on plankton!
 
Nitrates are put into the watershed in many ways. These nitrates can create huge blooms of algae. These algae blooms can block sunlight from getting to the plants growing on the seafloor. As these algae die and begin to decompose, the oxygen is taken out of the water. Many estuary animals, such as fish and zooplankton, need oxygen in the water to survive. What do you think would happen if too many nitrates were allowed to get into the estuary? Write your answer in your notebook.

Horizontal Divider 1

Want to see Plankton?

You'll need a microscope and a plankton net if you want to see some real, live critters. You can make your own plankton net by following these directions.

Horizontal Divider 1

Be prepared for our whole-group discussion time by having your notebook filled out with the following items:
  1. What you've learned today.
  2. Any questions you still have about plankton.
  3. Interesting things you'd like to share (such as scientific drawings, interesting facts, etc.).

Horizontal Divider 1

collectingplankton.jpg
Collecting Plankton in Padilla Bay

Become an estuary expert!

NOTE: This website was created using a free service which means I have no control over the advertisements that appear here.