The most dangerous predators of the ocean, the protists

“Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that’s all” This is how oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) described the white shark in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws. Certainly,Continue reading “The most dangerous predators of the ocean, the protists”

The biological pump and the role of ocean plankton in mitigating global warming

The biological pump is a process by which the ocean, with the help of marine organisms, captures CO2 from the atmosphere and buries it in sediments, where it will remain for hundreds or thousands of years. Through this process, the ocean helps to mitigate the effects of global warming, as it captures and integrates intoContinue reading “The biological pump and the role of ocean plankton in mitigating global warming”

Microzooplankton, terrible predators of the oceans: The movies!

The two previous videos show different species (Protoperidinium spp.) of dinflagellates pallium feeding on diatom chains. Similar to the seastars, the dinoflagellates evaginate a sort of “stomach ” to slowly digest the poor prey. This snake-like thing that you see swimming all over the place is a Gyrodinium dominans that has engulfed a diatom chain.Continue reading “Microzooplankton, terrible predators of the oceans: The movies!”

A teaspoon of seawater, a tiny ecosystem

When I was studying ecology in college I remember that in one exam, we were asked: how many whales are there in the Mediterranean? To complete the exercise, if memory serves me right, they gave us data on primary production (what phytoplankton produces) and the whales’ average weight.  We had to apply a model of transferContinue reading “A teaspoon of seawater, a tiny ecosystem”