5 Oct, 2023 570 Biology

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the tiny drifting organisms in the oceans that sustain the food chain for all the lifeforms in the water and so for the billions of people who, in turn, depend on the seas for their diet. In Earth’s development, the plant-like ones among them, the phytoplankton, produced so much oxygen through photosynthesis that around half the oxygen we breathe today originated there. And each day as the sun rises, the animal ones, the zooplankton, sink to the depths of the seas to avoid predators in such density that they appear on ship sonars like a new seabed, only to rise again at night in the largest migration of life on this planet.

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  • Carol Robinson No other episodes
    Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of East Anglia
  • Abigail McQuatters-Gollop No other episodes
    Associate Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Plymouth
  • Christopher Lowe No other episodes
    Lecturer in Marine Biology at Swansea University

Reading list

  • Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone
    Juli Berwald (Riverhead Books, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Open Sea: The World of Plankton
    Sir Alister Hardy (Collins New Naturalist Library, 2009) Google Books →
  • Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath the Waves
    Richard Kirby (Studio Cactus Ltd, 2010) Google Books →
  • Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science
    Robert Kunzig (Sort Of Books, 2000) Google Books →
  • Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World
    Christian Sardet (University of Chicago Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • The Brilliant Abyss: True Tales of Exploring the Deep Sea, Discovering Hidden Life and Selling the Seabed
    Helen Scales (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2022) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 570 (Biology)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Whenever you breathe in, half the oxygen in your lungs came from plankton, the tiny drifting life forms in the ocean.