Free-floating, oceanic animal
life as opposed to phytoplankton,
the free-floating plant life. Zooplankton consists of a wide variety of
small organisms, such as copepods, krill,
and larval forms of higher animals such as crab,
jellyfish, and fish.
Zooplankton graze upon phytoplankton as they ride the ocean currents, and
are themselves eaten by whales, small fish, invertebrates, and birds. Few
levels or areas of the ocean are devoid of zooplankton, and they form a
central constituent of the oceans' food chains.
|Some common zooplankton (mostly copepods) collected
near the surface over East Diamante volcano. Credit: NOAA