a directory of ways to participate in sea exploration

Plankton Portal

photo by willapalens

Classify different types of plankton to help analyze ocean health. Plankton are a critical source of food for life in the ocean – without plankton, we would have a lifeless ocean. Analyzing when and where plankton occur at different depths helps build a better understanding of the ocean from small to global scales. As a group, plankton are an eclectic collection of beautifully intricate organisms adrift in the oceanic waters. The classification of an organism as ‘plankton’ has nothing to do with its biological grouping, but rather with its inability to swim actively against oceanic currents. There are two main types of plankton: phytoplankton (plants) and zooplankton (animals).

Plankton Portal focuses primarily on zooplankton because the underwater camera system (named ISIIS, the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System) they use is optimized to photograph larger planktonic organisms.  The weightlessness of life in the ocean environment allows for very delicate and complex body designs, which are almost impossible to keep intact with normal means of collection. Imaging systems provide a first glimpse of these amazing animals in their natural environment, and may even lead to discovery of new species.

Project owners + coordinators:
Bob Cowen, research director
Chris Lintott, Zooniverse lead

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Category: data analysis.

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