The Incalculable Importance of Plankton

Our Ecosystem balance depends on the balance provided by Plankton in the Oceanic Carbon Cycle
Our Ecosystem balance depends on the balance provided by Plankton in the Oceanic Carbon Cycle

About Plankton

Plankton is a passively swimming plant life in a body of water known as the ocean. The Plankton that live in our ocean have one of the most important roles in the our Carbon Ecosystem. The importance of Plankton in our Ecosystem is incalculable. Plankton is important to mankind because Plankton plays a significant importance in the ocean Ecosystem.

Ecosystems are dynamic systems of plants, animals, and microorganisms, each in their own habitat serving as part of the environmental whole. Each member of the system must work together as an integral part of the systemic unit. The Oceanic Ecosystem contains organisms classified as Plankton. Plankton are organisms known as plant life. They are unable to resist ocean currents so they ride the waves. A form of Plankton known as algae, lives near the top of the ocean. Algae is important in the production of Photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is defined as a process by which green plants use carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to make their own food. Photosynthesis uses photo or light, and provides synthesis or joins together the elements. Thus, during the process of photosynthesis, a plant joins water and carbon dioxide together using sunlight and chlorophyll for energy. When these elements are joined, they make sugar and oxygen. Algae, is the Plankton in the ocean that is actively participating in the oceans Carbon Cycle and in the Global Ecosystem. Plankton driven by the ocean and solar energy or light takes the carbon it extracts from the bottom of the ocean floor and processes it.

The Plankton known as Algae, has one of the most important roles in the our Ocean's Carbon Ecosystem because it is capable of converting the oceanic carbon, taking it from the ocean floor. Our oceans contains the largest active pool of carbon near the surface of the Earth and without Plankton that is where it would stay. The Plankton that live on the ocean surface releases the ocean's carbon in the form of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. Once the carbon dioxide has been released, trees convert the carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breath. This process is known as the Carbon Cycle.

The process where carbon is exchanged via the Carbon Cycle is done in four ways: through the air, the biosphere, the earth and in the water. For humanity, the Carbon Cycle is one of the most important Ecosystems of the Earth. Algae and the Plankton's role in the Ocean's Ecosystem and in the Carbon Cycle is unique. Plankton initiates the recycling of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.

Carbon Dioxide appears in the Earth's atmosphere as a trace element thanks to the work of Plankton. Once Plankton recycles carbon dioxide into the air, trees can utilize the carbon dioxide by convert the carbon dioxide. Trees convert carbon dioxide by consuming the carbon and releasing the oxygen into the atmosphere for us to breathe. This recycling process is essential for carbon to be recycled and carbon dioxide to be reused throughout the biosphere by all of Earths organisms.

Oxygen is not a naturally occurring element on Earth. Because oxygen, is not readily present on Earth we rely on the Carbon Cycle to produce the oxygen we need to survive. The earth's Oxygen supply depends on the Plankton in the ocean and the Carbon Cycle. Without the Plankton in the ocean there would be no carbon cycle. The Carbon Cycle with the help of algae using photosynthesis and recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen would fail.

So, if Plankton were to disappear entirely from the ocean, the Carbon Cycle would be impaired. If carbon could not rise to the surface of the ocean for the Plankton to utilize because it was covered with a layer of oil, the Carbon Cycle would fail. If the Carbon Cycle were to fail, the Earth's atmosphere would change. Essentially, over a period of time the Earth's atmosphere would react to the loss of Plankton, and once again the Earth's Ecosystem would not contain oxygen that is processed through photosynthesis for us to utilize. The oxygen on earth would remain attached to carbon and be unusable as carbon dioxide. In other words, the trace element known as carbon dioxide would no longer be surfaced from the ocean floor by algae and converted to oxygen.

Currently, the British Petroleum Oceanic Oil Spill has added onto the other similar oceanic disasters to provide further damage to our fragile Oceanic Carbon Cycle. Each disaster makes significant transformations to the Oceanic Eco System. Each disaster on the Earth has the potential to be devastating to the Global Ecosystem as a whole. The news mentions that the current oil spill has caused abundant loss of fish that supports the livelihood of fishermen. They mention that the disaster caused the death of numerous forms of wildlife who survive on and above the ocean. They mention that little action of significance has been done to prevent the oil flow that is covering not only the top of the ocean, the beaches, but also covering the ocean floor with a layer of oil. The very oil destroying the habitat of organisms living on the ocean floor and in the waters of the ocean, like Plankton

With the current destruction of the ocean floors animal and plant life, may come additional carbon transformations in the Ecosystem. Those carbon transformations in the ocean might including significant damage to the Essential Oceanic Carbon Cycle that allows for photosynthesis. That oil spill may creating a significant risk to the essential carbon process that creates Oxygen. This horrific damage has global implications, and should evoke significant concern and action. Oceanic Ecosystem damage could potentially cause changes in climate as well as the atmospheric composition of Earth. These types of climate and atmospheric changes might potentially be dangerous for the well-being of all humankind.

Thus, the current oceanic catastrophe is having an impact on the evolutionary carbon cycle of the ocean. It is killing plants and animals in the ocean and covering the ocean floor with oil. What is happening in our ocean today has the potential to impact the Ecosystem in such a way that it will be felt in the entire biosphere for many years. Every Geology 101 student is taught about Ecosystems. If the Ecosystem is not in balance, it will fail. Our Ecosystem balance depends on the Oceanic Carbon Ecosystem. Our very existence depends on the Plankton that balances the atmosphere by recycling carbon dioxide making oxygen possible on Earth.

In Summary

So, why is plankton Important? Because all plants and animals rely on oxygen for respiration. Plankton plays the singularily essential role in the recycle of ocean carbon. Using solar light, ocean water and carbon plankton releasing carbon dioxide it into the atmosphere for trees to convert into the oxygen we breath.This Essential Carbon Cycle depends on Plankton. Plankton depend on their ocean home, carbon, and sunlight for life. The importance of Plankton in our Ecosystem and to us is incalculable.

Comments 14 comments

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 3 years ago from USA Author

Thabks a lot! People are so "me" oriented today that they do not stand back and look at the big picture. Appreciate your positive feedback!

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Au Fait it is amazing to see how many very important things we seem to be unaware of until it's too late. Hopefully with Hubs like ours we can help to save our planet and help continue the survival of all types of living organisms.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

An excellent hub about plankton. I wrote a hub on this subject a few months ago regarding the destruction of our oceans and forests. I've added a link on my hub to your hub. Hope you don't mind. People don't seem to realize or care that we are destroying the very parts of our planet that we must have to live.

Voted up and AUI.

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 4 years ago from USA Author

I had a comment that Plankton was not important and I was really talking about algae. That person actually stated that they worked in the field. Well, guess what? Algae is a form of plankton! The most common phytoplankton are diatoms and dinoflagellates. Diatoms are single-celled algae and are among the more important groups including: cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates and coccolithophores. They often join together in long chains. Phytoplankton, autotrophic, prokaryotic or eukaryotic algae live near the water surface and do photosynthesis. Zooplankton feed on other plankton and telonemia. Bacterioplankton play an important role in remineralising organic material down the water column. Check out this website for more:

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Peggy, the ocean and our environment is continuously on attack by business men and women who have no regard for the future of Mother Earth.Hopefully some day they will stop before it is too late!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Interesting article about the role of plankton and the environment. Fortunately the BP oil spill has been stopped since the time of originating this hub and fishermen are once again making a living from the Gulf of Mexico and tourists have returned to the beaches. Voting this useful and up.

Ilesanmi Agboworin 4 years ago

Thanks so much for the imformation on importance of plankton.It really educative.

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 6 years ago from USA Author

Thanks JJ - I agree - And it's surprising that the world governments will allow this to go on sitting back while British Oil continues to dump crude into the ocean. Guess they are but dinosaurs watching the volcano erupt with nothing they can do to stop it for fear of starting a war and we people are but cannon fatter?

JJ 6 years ago

Exactly! I have been searching for an article on the oil spill as it relates to phytoplankton for awhile now, and this is the first I've found. I can believe that the mainstream media is so uneducated to not bring this up at all, but perhaps it's a panic thing?

We get 71% of the oxygen we breath from algae (phytoplankton). Without that, humans cannot live on the land.

Jim 6 years ago

Dear Galadriel

It seems we're in deep denial about oil, including our decision to let the industry control--or not control--its regulation. We need five dollar per gallon gasoline, which would be an admission that the interstate highway system and the lives we've built around it are unsustainable. I take comfort in the growing number of people I meet who are thinking locally. We'll need to get to know our neighbors again, and start helping each other with kindness in the face of our common dilemma. I guess we'll see what we're made of.

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 6 years ago from USA Author

Well Jim, There is no doubt that BP [British Petroleum] has wasted valuable time fixing the oil leak. The analogy would be a vein inside our body being cut and having a doctor stab at it, stuff hair into it, and stuffing golf balls into it, instead of putting on a tourniquet, makes it all the more absurd. Sadly for us and the wild life. I don't know what the Texan could do, but it couldn't be worse than what has already been tried.

Jim 6 years ago

Well written, thank you. I looked this up while thinking about Lewis Thomas's description of atmospheric balance in his book "Lives of a Cell." People are concerned about the collapse of tourism and fishing related to the current Gulf oil leak. I'm concerned that we've cut our juggular vein on this one.

Galadriel Arwen profile image

Galadriel Arwen 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for the response. You are not alone. As a former educator, it has always interested me how certain things are over looked when folks report the news. Suppose they do not want to cause a panic!

John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

I did not know plankton released carbon dioxide. I thought that was solely the work of us animals. I hope the gulf spill dose not screw up too much of the planets life.

Thank you for an informative hub.

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