a directory of ways to participate in sea exploration

Secchi Plankton Study


Measure the density of phytoplankton living near the ocean’s surface! Marine phytoplankton account for ~50% of all photosynthesis on Earth, are critical to the marine food chain, and play a central role in the global carbon cycle that strongly influences Earth’s climate. Phytoplankton are declining due to rising sea surface temperatures as a consequence of climate change. The Secchi Plankton Study asks you to make a Secchi disk—a simple white disk attached to a measuring tape—lower it into the ocean (away from sediment-rich areas), record the depth at which it disappears, and enter the information into an app. Much more can be known about the changes to phytoplankton density by contributing more points of data from around the world. The collective dataset generated will eventually be linked with data from ocean-monitoring satellites to create a resource for scientists and the public.

Project owners + coordinators:
Richard Kirby, project lead
Nicholas Outram, iOS developer
Nigel Barlow, Android developer
Sam Lavender, database developer

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Category: observing.

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