Under the ocean's surface lies a hidden microcosm of life: the complex and alien world of plankton. In this book extraordinary high-magnification photography reveals the strange beauty and amazing variety of these tiny creatures that float freely near the sunlit surface of the sea. From here, they underpin the whole marine food chain, help to provide the planet with oxygen, and play an essential role in the global carbon cycle.
Despite the quantity and variety of plankton (a word taken from the Greek planktos, which means "drifter") in the ocean, few people know or care about them. A critical part of the diets of many creatures, plankton help regulate global temperatures, as well as being responsible for the carbon in the ocean, and the very scent of the sea. Molecular geneticist Kirby aims to introduce readers to the world of plankton, which are nearly invisible to the naked eye, through a stunning set of high-resolution photos demonstrating the uniqueness of the different species, and the delicate balance they maintain with the rest of the world. Though Kirby uses enough scientific expressions to warrant keeping a dictionary on hand, the book is accessible to lay readers. It would be an excellent addition to school libraries, regardless of the age of the students, and will hopefully raise awareness of the ocean's fragile ecosystems.