Find My Plankton Baby Picture

The ocean teems with life, from the blue whale to the pygmy seahorse to brain coral. But did you know that the ocean is also home to plankton? These marine organisms drift with ocean currents. And many of them are too small for humans to see. There are two kinds of plankton: phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Polaroid photo of a phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that use sunlight to grow and make food. They also produce most of the oxygen we breathe. Phytoplankton are just as important to life on Earth as rainforests!

polaroid photo of a zooplankton

Zooplankton are tiny marine animals that can't swim strongly against the ocean current. Some are permanent drifters in the sea. Others are actually larvae: baby forms of larger marine animals. As these ocean babies grow up, some gain the ability to swim. Some become able to propel themselves through water. And some eventually settle out to live on or near the ocean bottom. The adults they become no longer drift with the currents. So, they are no longer considered plankton.

These marine adults can look very different from the larvae they once were. Can you find their plankton baby pictures? 

A diver floating next to a very large and pale sunfish.
1

I’m an ocean sunfish, the heaviest bony fish in the world. I can weigh as much as 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds)! But when I was a baby, I was as small as the head of a pin. And I had a spiky, star-shaped covering.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

A transparent, oval-shaped creature with rows of combs that run the length of its body.
Round, translucent organism with spikes.
Two transparent spheres covered in small white circles
Nope. Try again!
Round, translucent organism with spikes.
Yup! That’s me!

My mom laid about 300 million other eggs along with the one I hatched from. That’s a lot of siblings!

Question 1 of 8
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Side view of blue fin tuna swimming.
2

I’m a bluefin tuna. I swim fast: up to 70 kilometers (43 miles) per hour. And I migrate vast distances to feed and to lay eggs. I can grow as big as 3 meters (10 feet), but when I was a larva I was the size of a lentil.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

A semi-transparent creature with a kite-shaped body and two wing-like appendages coming from one end.
Centipede-like organism with antennae, many tentacles, and a long tail.
Side view of a white, semi-transparent creature with no limbs, a small tail, a dark eye, and an over-sized, open mouth.
Nope. Try again!
Side view of a white, semi-transparent creature with no limbs, a small tail, a dark eye, and an over-sized, open mouth.
Yup! That’s me!

As a little fish, I hung out in schools with youngsters my own size.

Question 2 of 8
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Flounder laying on it's side in sand.
3

I’m a flounder. I lie on my side on the seafloor waiting to ambush prey. Because my left side always faces up, both my eyes are on the left. But when I was a baby, I had eyes on both sides, like other fishes.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

Baby fish with eyes on side.
pink, peanut-shaped organism with a green center.
An organism with a oblong head and long tail.
Nope. Try again!
Baby fish with eyes on side.
Yup! That’s me!

As I grew up, I lost my bright colors—but that’s okay. Now I can change the color and pattern of my skin to help me hide on the seafloor. I can look like sand one minute, and a rocky bottom the next!

Question 3 of 8
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A five-armed starfish laying in sand next to two small hinged shells
4

I’m a sea star, and I live in shallow waters. I get my name from my five spiny arms that form the shape of a star. But as a larva, I looked more like an alien with flowy tentacles. And I was covered with about 100,000 microscopic hairs called cilia. I used them to move around in the water.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

Yellow and blue four-cornered organism covered in multiple small circles.
Spherical organism covered in smaller circular shapes.
A transparent creature, with many tentacle-like cilia stemming from its clustered, orb-like body.
Nope. Try again!
A transparent creature, with many tentacle-like cilia stemming from its clustered, orb-like body.
Yup! That’s me!

Having thousands of cilia was nice, but my adult arms work better now that I’m big. If somebody bites off an arm, I can grow a new one!

Question 4 of 8
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A sea snail in a pointed, spiral shell.
5

I’m a dog whelk, and I live on rocky shores. My strong, hard, pointed shell protects me from birds and crabs. When I first emerged from my egg capsule, my shell was thin and almost transparent.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

Translucent tube-like organism with thin red striping.
An organism in a semi-transparent shell with a set of banana-shaped, tubular appendages.
A slug-like, semi-transparent creature with a two wing-like appendages.
Nope. Try again!
An organism in a semi-transparent shell with a set of banana-shaped, tubular appendages.
Yup! That’s me!

As a new hatchling, I was so good at crawling that scientists called me a “crawl-away.”

Question 5 of 8
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A spider crab with long legs, walking along a rocky seafloor.
6

I'm a crab but my long legs make me look like a spider—that’s why I’m called a spider crab. I live in vents and holes deep on the ocean floor. My hard shell helps me scrape up algae and pry open mollusks to eat. But when I was a baby I had no shell. I was transparent!

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

A transparent organism covered in multicolored spots, with two tiny fins on one end, and two hooks on the opposite end.
Translucent organism with a small body and about eight long red-tipped appendages.
An organism with a v-shaped body, two eye stalks, antennae, eight segmented legs and two pincers
Nope. Try again!
An organism with a v-shaped body, two eye stalks, antennae, eight segmented legs and two pincers
Yup! That’s me!

Until I hatched, my mother carried me and other fertilized eggs on her abdomen.

Question 6 of 8
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white and orange centipede-like organism with multiple tentacles in sand.
7

I’m a parchment worm. I live in a papery tube buried in sediment. When I wave water with my fan-like segments, plankton stick to my mucus. Yum, lunch! As a larva, though, I drifted free. I didn’t need spines yet to dig with.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

A transparent organism whose body is shaped like a series of bells on top of each other with around 10 short tentacles attached to one end.
A semi-transparent, oblong creature with a soft, lumpy body.
Translucent organism with a main bell-shaped body covering a few appendages.
Nope. Try again!
A semi-transparent, oblong creature with a soft, lumpy body.
Yup! That’s me!

Living in a tube is a big change from drifting. But don’t bump my tube! If you do, I might burp out glowing blue mucus.

Question 7 of 8
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Close up of a sea anemone with numerous tentacles on the seafloor.
8

I’m a tube anemone. I may look like a plant that lives on the ocean floor, but I’m actually a carnivorous animal. I have hundreds of tentacles that I use to grab prey, such as small crustaceans that swim near. I started life drifting with ocean currents as my tentacles developed.

Can you find my plankton baby picture?

Starfish-shaped organism with a web-like covering.
Orange organism with long antennae, a head and body.
Translucent organism with a bell-shaped body and about eight arms.
Nope. Try again!
Translucent organism with a bell-shaped body and about eight arms.
Yup! That’s me!

Once I was big enough, I burrowed in sand or mud until I reached solid rock I could grab with my foot. Others like me also live in crevices in the rocks.

Question 8 of 8
Nice try! Swimmingly! Swimmingly! What a splash! You got out of 8 right on the first guess.
Image Credits:
Plankton background pattern, ©Liz Vernon/AMNH; Phytoplankton polaroid, ©Liz Vernon/AMNH; Zooplankton polaroid, ©AMNH/Liz Vernon; Sunfish with diver, ©Mike Johnson; Comb jelly, ©Andrey Nekrasov/Alamy; Sunfish larvae, G. David Johnson/CC BY-SA 3.0; Volvox algae, Picturepest/CC BY 2.0; Blue fin tuna, ©YAY Media/Alamy; Sea butterfly, ©Solvin Zankl/Alamy; Tomopteris, ©Fredrik Pleijel; Bluefin tuna larva, NOAA; Flounder, ©Robert S. Michelson/AGE Fotostock; Flounder larvae, ©Eiichi Yamamoto; Diploneis, ©Science Photo Library/Alamy; Sea squirt, ©DP Wilson/FLPA/Minden Pictures; Starfish, ©Clément Philippe/AGE Fotostock; Diatom, ©Perennou Nuridsany/Science Source; Phytoplankton, ©Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source; Starfish larva, ©DP Wilson FLPA/AGE Fotostock; ©Fredrik Pleijel; Ctenophore, ©Richard Hermann/AGE Fotostock; Dog whelk larva, ©DP Wilson/FLPA/Minden Pictures; Clione, ©Alexander Semenov/AGE Fotostock; Spider crab, ©George Karbus Photography/Science Source; Squid larva, ©Photononstop/Alamy; Heart Urchin, ©DP Wilson FLPA/Minden Pictures/AGE Fotostock; Spider crab larva, ©DP Wilson/FLPA/Science Source; Parchment worm, ©Tom McHugh/Science Source; Physophora hydrostatica, ©Solvin Zankl/Minden Pictures; Parchment worm larva, ©Alvaro E. Migotto/Marine Biology Center of University of São Paulo; Phronima, ©Dante Fenolio/Science Source; Anemone, ©Andrey Nekrasov/Alamy; SEM image of diatom, ©Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source; Zooplankton, ©Ingo Arndt/Minden Pictures/AGE Fotostock; Anemone larva, ©DP Wilson/FLPA/Minden Pictures.