The Greek word πλαγκτον is the neutral of the ancient Greek adjective πλαγκτος which means the wanderer, the one who goes from one region to another-here and there. It is therefore known that the word plankton is a repatriated loan that was used for the first time from the German biologist Victor Hensen (1835-1924) .It includes all living organisms, vegetal and vitals, that float passively in water and are driven by the flows-undertow .The plankton does not settle in the depth of the sea and is constantly in motion. That is to say, these microorganisms are unable to swim and turn around proportionally to the water s movements.Most of the times, plankton is not visible without a microscope because it refers mostly to micro organisms, smaller than 5 micrometers, up to certain centimetres organisms (protozoa, algae, jellyfish). Plankton is the basic diet of fishes and constantly supplies the aquatic organisms. It is in great abundance in the late spring when fishes which are fed with plankton are fished (sardines, tuna etc).
For the history of this word, we can mention that the Dutchman Anton van Leewenhoek was the first who in 1676 noted down the existence of the invisible to the naked eye plankton when he made the first microscopic water analysis. He observed “some strange shapes in motion” “some strange moving shapes” but he could not suspect their importance in the food chain. Two hundred years later, the German Hensen, who formed the word ecology, will borrow a Greek word to call these “strange shapes” as plankton.
text: George Damianos
trad.: Aggeliki Kiapekaki