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Unit 2

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Concepts/Objectives | Vocabulary/Background | Activity | Extension


Lesson Plan 4




Plankton ­ Organisms that drift; they cannot swim against a current stronger than 1 knot (1 nautical mile/hour)
Microscopic- Living or nonliving particles that are unable to be seen with the naked eye
Microscope- Scientific instrument used to observe detailed view of living and nonliving objects
Sampling- The process of taking a small portion of (sample of) a material to study it


Students will observe plankton under a microscope, record their observations, classify the plankton using guides, photographs and other resources.



Marine life can be divided into three categories based on lifestyles.
Organisms that live in or on the bottom, such as seaweed or crabs, are called benthic. Strong-swimming animals that live in the open water, such as squid, whales, and adult fish, are called the nekton. Plankton are small floating or feebly-swimming plants and animals in the water. Plankton may be primitive unicellular organisms or complex multicellular plants and animals. All types of plankton are at the mercy or the waves, tides, and currents for transportation. Most of the organic matter in the sea is plankton, and directly or indirectly, nearly all other marine creatures depend on it as a source of food. Plant plankton (phytoplankton) need to be near the surface, where light is available for photosynthesis. Most animal plankton (zooplankton) need to be near the surface to feed upon the phytoplankton. In order to stay afloat near the surface, plankton have evolved many ways to control their position in the sea. Spikes and other projections on a plankton help to distribute the organisms weight over a large surface area, slowing its sinking. Examples are zoea larva (pre-adult stage of crabs) and brachiolaria larva (pre-adult stage of sea cucumber). Oil is lighter than water. Many organisms, such as copepods and diatoms, produce oil to help them float. Air-filled floats help many types of marine zooplankton, such as the Portuguese man-o-war, stay afloat. For additional resources and plankton photos, please see Related Sites below


Concepts/Objectives | Vocabulary/Background | Activity | Extension