The base

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Copepods

The advantage of my new plankton net and small aquarium is that I can show one of the first chains in the food chain, zooplankton. Normally in very low densities and of course very small so even divers don’t see it. But when I drag my net a few times through the water, I’ve quite a lot to show. The majority I catch are these copepods, the most important food for Little Auks, but also ending up as food in other parts of the food chain and eventually ending up in seals and Polar Bears.

But as these Little Auks produce droppings near the colony, they also are at the base of the often very rich tundra underneath those bird colonies. This rich tundra is in turn the food for geese and Spitsbergen Reindeer.

All this, because of these tiny animals of only a few mm long that hardly anybody has seen. For me an important reason to get a plankton net, so I could show this very important but normally hidden world as well.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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