Sunday, September 12, 2010


Gareth here. I'm very excited to be writing the first post to our new blog! I'm part of a research group at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution focused on the role of zooplankton in the ecosystems of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Right now we're especially interested in krill. A lot is known about krill in the Antarctic, where they're the main food item for all of the cute predators we associate with that region, like penguins, seals, and whales. In our local waters off the northeast coast of North America though, much less is known about krill -- but we know they're out there, we suspect they're an important player in the ecosystem, and so we're going to try to learn more about them!

In the next few years we have a number of field projects examining the ecology of krill and other zooplankton in our part of the ocean. Like swarms of insects, zooplankton are often distributed in 'patches' in the water column, and we'll be trying to understand the processes that lead to the formation, maintenance, and dispersion of these patches. We'll also be looking at how these zooplankton patches interact with and support higher predators, including commercial fishes, marine mammals, and seabirds.

In this blog we'll be providing ongoing updates from the field, so stay tuned to see and read more about oceanographic research (as it happens!), life on oceanographic research vessels, and everyone's favorite zooplankton -- krill!

View through the microscope of Euphausia krohni, a common krill species in the northwest Atlantic. (Photo: N Fitzharris)

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