This guide was initiated as a tool to assist members of the public, students, and others curious about the drifting planktonic animals found in local marine waters near the coast of San Diego. This guide grew from a series of papers in the University of California Publications in Zoology series, published long ago by early researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). The species included in those papers are the foundation of the species list presented here; species’ names have been updated (generally following http://www.itis.gov/) and species not covered in the earlier works have been added. This guide is not comprehensive and does not include the larval forms of benthic invertebrates.
This guide is not a taxonomic key. Our intent is to present a pictorial guide to common species; currently 18 different taxonomic groups covering 126 species are presented. Included are the scientific names, common names, specific information, line drawings, photographs, a brief video segment if available, and useful references. Specific information and line drawings are drawn from the scientific literature, with permission. Most photographs are original images taken in the Pelagic Invertebrates Collection (PIC), SIO, while others are from contributors who generously permitted the use of their images for this guide. Preserved or live specimens were photographed, depending upon availability of specimens. Identifications of the zooplankton were made by the staff of the PIC, unless otherwise noted.