Mind-blowing fact: A massive group of single-celled algae called diatoms are considered champions of photosynthesis. Why? Diatoms are responsible for an estimated 20% to 40% — maybe even 60% — of the Earth’s oxygen. At the very least, that’s every fourth or fifth breath that you take.
Diatoms are a very common kind of phytoplankton that drifts in our oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and even our soil, and yet they are just one group of microscopic plankton that contributes to Earth’s ecosystems.
Humans need plankton, but most people go through life without seeing one up close. Plankton are the unsung heroes of the ocean — the tiny, beautiful, lungs of the planet and food for the sea.
In this episode of KQED’s Deep Look, we get a quick primer on the phytoplankton and zooplankton that live as drifting, oxygen-producing morsels in our ocean food chain. From Drifter to Dynamo: The Story of Plankton.