Zooplankton like krill may be small, but they are mighty! Because so many marine animals depend on these tiny animals for food, their size and abundance can tell researchers a lot about how healthy an ecosystem is. When there's lots of krill, there also tends to be plenty of seabirds and marine mammals around. Researchers from Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary work with ACCESS Partnership to survey the zooplankton in the sanctuary -- check out our video to learn more! ‪#‎EarthIsBlue


Today you’ll see how we operate a tucker trawl net. A tucker trawl net has three different nets, and it samples the water column at three different levels. We’re looking at zooplankton.

Zooplankton being krill, copepods, and other gelatinous invertebrates. The zooplankton, after it’s caught in the net, is washed down through the cod end, and then we separate it out in the lab, count it and quantify it. This information about the quantities and quality of the zooplankton gives us a lot of good information on the health of our marine ecosystem.

In years where we have an abundance of krill, we also directly see a good abundance of seabirds and marine mammals. In years where the krill is either smaller or fewer, then we will see fewer birds and fewer marine mammals.