You are here
Many zooplankton samples include things that are not zooplankton. When sampling nearshore, its very common to collect detritus that originates from land, particularly near marshes. You might also find small sticky blobs that originated from a ctenophore or some other kind of gelatinous animal, possibly with zooplankton stuck to it. In the water, these small fragments will fall the sea floor and become food for benthic organisms.
One thing to look for are small bits of plastic, particularly if you sample the surface since plastic floats. Some are brightly colored, others are clear. They could be from a number of sources: discarded fishing line, plastic bottles from land, or trash from boats. These microplastics can be problematic, particularly for zooplankton when they mistake these small bits for food and try to eat them. Check out our research on microplastics, along with NOAA's website on marine debris to learn more about this global marine pollution issue.