They’re small and mighty, the bottom of the food chain, and fuel for the ecosystem. Here are some pictures from under the microscope. We’ve been cataloging the small stuff, because it’s important! The algae (phytoplankton) that are featured in the pictures below use photosynthesis to fix carbon (food and energy!) using sunlight. But the light is so low, with sunrise and sunset only about 5 hours apart. This means that these single-celled energy powerhouses are true survivors, tolerant to low light levels and very cold temperatures.
Their morphology, or cell shape, reflects adaptations that allow them to find the sweet spot in the water column associated with the optimum level of sunlight. The spikes and spines on some of these cells may also be used to avoid predation.