Educational Resources-Plankton

This section is designed to aid the teachers in fulfilling the following AHSGE Standards and Objectives requirements.

  • Standard: I-1
  • Standard: II-1
  • Standard: III-3
  • Standard: VI-1

“The Food Cycle”


  • “As far as we know, nearly all life in the ocean is dependent on plants. Only plants have the ability to manufacture food out of inorganic substances” (Coulombre, 1992)
  • Plants are the producers and the first link in the food chain
  • Animals in turn eat the producers and are considered to be consumers. Animals also eat animals as you go higher up on the food chain
  • Eventually all creatures die and sinks to the bottom of the ocean
  • The body is eaten by scavengers and bacteria. The bacteria breaks down the carcass back into inorganic nutrients that rise to the surface
  • The cycle starts over again with the producers..

Marine life can be divided into 3 categories, based on what level of the ocean they live in.

  • Plankton – Small floating or free swimming organisms that live in the water (phytoplankton, zooplankton)
  • Nekton – Strong swimming animals that live in open water (dolphins, whales)
  • Benthos – Organisms that live on or near the bottom of the ocean (seaweed, crabs).

Plankton Facts:

  • Plankton may be unicellular or multicellular plants and animals. One characteristic they all share is an inability to swim faster than one knot. Thus they are at the mercy of even moderate current. (Fotheringham and Brunenmeister, 1989).
  • Most of the organic matter found in the ocean is classified as plankton. Plankton is at the base of the food chain and is almost all other marine life depends on it as a food source. Plankton is classified into Phytoplankton (plant plankton) and Zooplankton (animal plankton).

Proceed to Phytoplankton

Introduction | Phytoplankton | Zooplankton | Resources