Phytoplankton


How a Volcanic Eruption Set Off a Phytoplankton Bloom

The New York Times

Lava-driven nutrient fountains “could be a pretty important driver of phytoplankton ecology in the broader ocean,” said Harriet Alexander, a biological oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who was not involved in the latest study.

Minion robots in the Ocean Twilight Zone

Phytoplankton use sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow, forming the base of the ocean food web. Phytoplankton are eaten by zooplankton, which are eaten by other animals. Dead zooplankton and other particles become marine snow drifting in the ocean, but how much marine snow sinks below the sun-lit ocean surface? Scientists are developing a new device
that will follow marine snow into the ocean’s twilight zone.

The MINION is a small (2 Liters) inexpensive instrument. It is equipped with… cameras, seawater sensors, acoustic recorder, ballast weight. Once deployed, MINION will sink to the twilight zone and drift with currents.

Cameras on the side record the rate and quantity of particles falling through the ocean. Falling particles also accumulate on a clear glass panel. A camera on top will record the particle type and accumulation rate.

Similar images have revealed the twilight zone is a perpetual snowstorm, of organic debris. Particles such as this fecal pellet from a jellyfish-like salp are extremely carbon-rich. Pellets like this will sink quickly to deeper waters, or even become buried in the seafloor. Any marine snow that reaches the deep ocean means less carbon in the atmosphere.

The MINION is designed to listen for underwater sound sources. This will determine their location as they drift.

After a MINION has finished its mission, it will release weight and float to the surface. At the surface, it sends a homing signal so it can be recovered. The next generation of MINION will send compressed data-sets via satellite. Allowing them to be deployed by the dozens. Data from MINIONS will help scientists learn more about the ocean’s role in Earth’s climate system.

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The Krill Crate

The Krill Tank

Scientists from WHOI and the University of Oregon transport a tank of juvenile krill (gray square box on small boat)…

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Phytoplankton

What are Phytoplankton? Phytoplankton are mostly microscopic, single-celled photosynthetic organisms that live suspended in water. Like land plants, they take…

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Plankton, By Any Other Name

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Scientists usually divide plankton into three groups that align with major divisions of life. The plant-like organisms are phytoplankton (from…

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The Recipe for a Harmful Algal Bloom

The Recipe for a Harmful Algal Bloom

Harmful algal blooms can produce toxins that accumulate in shellfish and cause health problems and economic losses. They have increased in strength and frequency worldwide. Can we get advance warnings of when and where they will occur?

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Life at the Edge

What makes the shelf break front such a productive and diverse part of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean? A group of scientists on the research vessel Neil Armstrong spent two weeks at sea in 2018 as part of a three-year, NSF-funded project to find out.

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Forecasting Where Ocean Life Thrives

Forecasting Where Ocean Life Thrives

The ocean, like the atmosphere, has “fronts,” and it’s hardly quiet on them. In fact, that is where the plankton that provide the foundation of the ocean food web are most prolific.

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Mission to the Ocean Twilight Zone

Mission to the Ocean Twilight Zone

The twilight zone is a part of the ocean 660 to 3,300 feet below the surface, where little sunlight can reach. It is deep and dark and cold, and the pressures there are enormous. Despite these challenging conditions, the twilight zone teems with life that helps support the ocean’s food web and is intertwined with Earth’s climate. Some countries are gearing up to exploit twilight zone fisheries, with unknown impacts for marine ecosystems and global climate. Scientists and engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are poised to explore and investigate this hidden frontier.

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Heidi Sosik Selected as a Fellow of The Oceanography Society

Heidi Sosik Selected as a Fellow of The Oceanography Society

Heidi Sosik, a senior scientist in the Biology Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has been named a 2018 Fellow of The Oceanography Society (TOS). Sosik’s accomplishments will be formally recognized on Feb. 13, 2018, during a ceremony at the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon.

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PlankZooka & SUPR-REMUS

PlankZooka & SUPR-REMUS

Much of marine life begins as microscopic larvae—so tiny, delicate, and scattered in hard-to-reach parts of ocean that scientists have…

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New 13-year Study Tracks Impact of Changing Climate on a Key Marine Food Source

New 13-year Study Tracks Impact of Changing Climate on a Key Marine Food Source

A new multiyear study from scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown for the first time how changes in ocean temperature affect a key species of phytoplankton. The study, published in the October 21 issue of the journal Science, tracked levels of Synechococcus – ”a tiny bacterium common in marine ecosystems – ”near the coast of Massachusetts over a 13-year period. As ocean temperatures increased during that time, annual blooms of Synechococcus occurred up to four weeks earlier than usual because cells divided faster in warmer conditions, the study found.

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Specks in the Spectrometer

Specks in the Spectrometer

Mass spectrometer facilities can be a rite of passage for scientists—as well as for the samples analyzed inside the mass specs.

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Setting a Watchman for Harmful Algal Blooms

Setting a Watchman for Harmful Algal Blooms

As harmful algal blooms are becoming more frequent and severe worldwide, researchers in the lab of WHOI biologist Don Anderson are testing an array of new instruments that can be used in early-warning monitoring systems for coastal waters.

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