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Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany


phytoplankton picture


The term "phytoplankton" refers to a lifestyle, not a particular type of organism - many plant taxa have representatives that are phytoplankton.  Within this set of pages I present basic information about phytoplankton, hoping to inspire you to look for yourself at these charismatic organisms.  Phytoplankton display an amazing diversity of size, shape, color and motility which can only be appreciated by looking at them under a microscope.  The rewards for a small amount of collecting effort are immense - so look on!


Here are the common phytoplankton taxa you might find in a marine phytoplankton sample: 

cyanobacteria  Cyanobacteria

silicoflagellate  Silicoflagellates

coccolithophorid -Emiliania  Coccolithophorids

diatom  Diatoms

dinoflagellate  Dinoflagellates

© 2001 Caren E. Braby