Wonders of the Drifting World
Viewing these creatures up close for the first time can be a thrilling experience—an elaborate but hidden world truly opens up before your eyes. Through hundreds of close-up photographs, Plankton transports readers into the currents, where jeweled chains hang next to phosphorescent chandeliers, spidery claws jut out from sinuous bodies, and gelatinous barrels protect microscopic hearts. The creatures’ vibrant colors pop against the black pages, allowing readers to examine every eye and follow every tentacle. Jellyfish, tadpoles, and bacteria all find a place in the book, representing the broad scope of organisms dependent on drifting currents.
Christian Sardet’s enlightening text explains the biological underpinnings of each species while connecting them to the larger living world. He begins with plankton’s origins and history, then dives into each group, covering ctenophores and cnidarians, crustaceans and mollusks, and worms and tadpoles. He also demonstrates the indisputable impact of plankton in our lives. Plankton drift through our world mostly unseen, yet they are diverse organisms that form ninety-five percent of ocean life. Biologically, they are the foundation of the aquatic food web and consume as much carbon dioxide as land-based plants. Culturally, they have driven new industries and captured artists’ imaginations.
While scientists and entrepreneurs are just starting to tap the potential of this undersea forest, for most people these pages will represent uncharted waters. Plankton is a spectacular journey that will leave readers seeing the ocean in ways they never imagined.
Introduction. Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World
Plankton and Man
The Origins: Life Shapes the Planet
Explosions, Extinctions, and Evolution of Life in the Ocean
A Chronological History of the Planet and the Tree of Life
Taxonomy and Phylogeny: Hierarchical Categorizations
Organisms of All Sizes, with Different Roles and Behavior
Collecting and Identifying Plankton, Then and Now
Between Ecuador and Galapagos: Tara Oceans Expedition
South Carolina, United States: Salt Marsh Estuaries
Izu Peninsula and Shimoda, Japan: Autumn Plankton
Unicellular Protists: Precursors of Plants and Animals
Coccolithophores and Foraminifera: Limestone Architects
Diatoms and Dinoflagellates: Silicate or Cellulose Houses
Radiolarians: Polycystines and Acantharians: Symbiosis at the Ocean Surface
Ciliates, Tintinnids, and Choanoflagellates: Motility and Multicellularity
Jellyfish: Equipped to Survive
Siphonophores: The Longest Animals in the World
Velella, Porpita, and Physalia: Planktonic Sailors
Copepods to Amphipods: Variations on a Theme
Phronima: Monster in a Barrel
Pteropods and Heteropods: Mollusks That Swim with Their Feet
Cephalopods and Nudibranchs: Beautiful Colors and Camouflage
Polychaete Annelids: Worms in the Sea
Salps, Doliolids, and Pyrosomes: Highly Evolved Gelatinous Animals
Larvaceans: Tadpoles That Live in a Net
Embryos and Larvae
"Plankton is so hot right now. You may have heard about the stuff that floats around the sea—tiny plant-like organisms called phytoplankton and beasties like small crustaceans called zooplankton—last month when a three-year oceanic expedition released a trove of findings about the global community’s composition and diversity. Anyone who is anyone has plankton on their mind.
And no one more so than Christian Sardet, who cofounded the expedition, known as Tara Oceans. His positively stunning book Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World features some of the most intriguing, most beautiful organisms that he had the honor of observing at hundreds of sites in the world’s oceans. It’s the catalog of a mission that has revealed just how diverse and gorgeous the lowly plankton can be, and how indispensable they are to life on Earth."
Sardet brings alive the history of plankton—both the recent history of the last few hundred years of science, and the deep history of the evolutionary relationships between the incredibly diverse beings that we collectively refer to as plankton. And then chapter by chapter, we get to know these creatures great and small, some spectacularly colored and others as invisible and mysterious as diamonds, the squishy, chewy, and crunchy drifters of the sea. Designed to be a coffee table book, Plankton is also the finest and most comprehensive textbook on the subject. This is a book that will gather no dust -- it is just too beautiful to put down!"