Photo of the Week: (Microscopic) March Madness


Spring is in the air — and plankton are blooming all over!

Research Oceanographer Jules Jaffe shared this series of images of individual plankton from a bloom this week captured by the Scripps Plankton Camera System.

Mounted underwater at the end of Scripps Pier, the SPC is a prototype automated microscope that photographs tiny ocean organisms as they float through the camera’s target area. The system creates a continuous record of the type and number of plankton in the area — and in the case of this March bloom, Jaffe notes, that includes lots of chain-forming diatoms. Plankton are a key element of the marine ecosystem, so researchers are always trying to improve their understanding of plankton blooms.

Details about the development of the system and the continuing challenge of keeping fish and other obstacles out of the field of view are available on the SPC website. The latest version of the Scripps Plankton Camera was funded by an anonymous donation.

Related Image Gallery: Photo of the Week 2016

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