ages 17-21

CHALLENGE TOPIC: Don’t leave me breathless. Tell the untold story of oxygen and phytoplankton.

Films must be one minute or less in duration and may be in narrative or documentary format. Win up to $1,000 for yourself and/or your school! The school with the most entries will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize.

Enter by March 9th to be eligible to win an early bird prize!

For more information, see the Terms and Conditions on the entry form.

What are phytoplankton?

Phytoplankton are tiny ocean plants that live near the water’s surface and drift with the currents.

What do phytoplankton do?

  1. Phytoplankton are the foundation of the aquatic food web
  2. Phytoplankton produce over half of the oxygen we breathe.
  3. Through photosynthesis, phytoplankton consume carbon dioxide on a scale equivalent to forests and other land plants.

Where do phytoplankton live?

Phytoplankton live in oceans, seas or lakes. Phytoplankton live at the top of the water column, as far down as the sunlight can penetrate. This is called the euphotic zone.

What do phytoplankton need to thrive?

Sunlight and nutrients.

How much oxygen is produced by phytoplankton?

Scientists estimate that at least 50 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere has been produced by phytoplankton.

What makes the most oxygen in the world?

Phytoplankton produce more than 50% of the world’s oxygen supply.

Where does most of the world’s oxygen come from?

Half of the world’s oxygen is produced via phytoplankton photosynthesis. The other half is produced via photosynthesis on land by trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants.

What is the role of phytoplankton in the oxygen cycle?

Phytoplankton produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, a process which converts carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars the organism can use for energy.

What is the role of phytoplankton in the carbon cycle?

Phytoplankton play a critical role in regulating today’s carbon cycles. These tiny organisms absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and move it to marine sediments in the deep ocean in a process called ‘the biological pump.’

This ‘biological pump’ transfers about 10 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere to the deep ocean each year. Even small changes in the growth of phytoplankton may affect atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, which would feedback to global surface temperatures.

What role does phytoplankton play in the aquatic food web?

Phytoplankton are the base of the aquatic food web, feeding everything from microscopic, animal-like zooplankton to multi-ton whales. Without phytoplankton, no other part of the food chain could exist.

Are phytoplankton and algae the same thing?

All phytoplankton are algae. However, all algae are not phytoplankton.