National Geographic : 1961 Feb
How the Sun Gives Life to the Sea the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the North Sea, and off the northwest coast of Africa, for example. Near the Peruvian coast a rain of sea birds comes down to feed on the fish life that exists there in tremendous abun dance. The island cliffs and coastal crags where the birds roost are whitened with their guano. These sun-parched accumulations supply man with rich fertilizer from the sea.* Tropical waters, on the other hand, have sparser plankton populations. One reason for the glassy clarity of these waters is that the microscopic wanderers don't exist there in such clogging numbers. But tiny organisms are present nevertheless, even plentiful. Moreover, due to the differences in chemical and physical qualities of warm compared to *See "Peru Profits From Sea Fowl," by Robert Cush man Murphy, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, March, 1959. frigid seas, tropical plankton displays a diversity of species and colors which its cold er counterpart cannot match. We aboard the Research weren't after quantity. We were seeking data on the distri bution and relative numbers of various sub tropical plankton types. Microscope Reveals a Miniature World Skipper Marshall cut the ignition, and the Research's engine coughed to a halt. McLaughlin and I dragged the two nets in. The bottle attached to the larger cone was alive with bits of matter, so tiny and trans parent that a shimmering iridescence was the only clue to the furious jostling and whirl ing within. The fabric of the net itself was thinly coated on the inside with a grayish (Continued on page 210) Tapered net, a wind sock of the sea, sweeps through an underwater world of mote-sized creatures. Its nylon mesh, and a collecting bottle tied at the small end, capture plankton - a living chowder of diatoms, dinoflagellates, fish eggs, shellfish and crustacean larvae, and other Lilliputians of the deep. Dr. John McLaughlin of New York's Haskins Laboratories pulls in the haul from the Gulf Stream off the Biminis. KODACHROME ) NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY _ ._____ .