The mysterious world of plankton

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About the exhibit

OCEAN: PLANKTON CHRONICLES by Christian Sardet & The Macronauts is a beautiful visual and audio installation revealing the extraordinary invisible life in the world’s oceans. 

It features stunning photography and footage of plankton – beautiful, tiny creatures central to our life support system – set to a mesmerising soundscape.

The invisible world of oceans 

The oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface and contain 97% of its water. Oceans support all life via food webs and the regulations of the gases in the atmosphere and climate. The ocean water itself absorbs heat and CO2 but it is the diversity of life within it, mainly microscopic, that perform the majority of its life-giving services. Near the surface one drop of seawater contains around 10,000 to 100,000 bacteria and a million viruses – most of which are beneficial. 

What's so special about plankton?

Plankton is the diverse collection of beautiful and mysterious plants, algae and animals adrift in ocean currents, which together form the basis of our planet’s life support system. Some of these tiny creatures harvest sunlight and produce oxygen; others drive the water cycle, make clouds, food, fuel, rocks and medicines. While many plankton may be microscopic in size, these organisms play a huge role in underpinning the whole food chain and regulating our climate. 

Did you know…?

  • The name plankton comes from the Greek adjective planktos, meaning errant – as plankton drift around on ocean currents. 
  • Many planktonic species are microscopic in size, but plankton also includes larger organisms such as jellyfish.
  • Plankton produce 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere. We wouldn’t be here without them.
  • Plankton are the basis of the marine food chain, so their abundance influences populations of fish, sea birds, and marine mammals.
  • Plankton face many challenges today, including plastic pollution and global warming.

About the Plankton Chronicles 

Christian Sardet, co-founder of the Tara Oceans expedition dedicated to the global study of plankton, initiated the Plankton Chronicles project with Noé Sardet and Sharif Mirshak (The Macronauts) to share the beauty and diversity of plankton.

Christian and Noé have exhibited photos and films in festivals, museums and aquariums in Paris, Tokyo, Kyoto and Montreal. They have also developed interactive Plankton Mandala installations.

Ryuichi Sakamoto is an internationally renowned musician and composer, best known for his film-scores on The Last Emperor, Little Buddha, The Revenant, and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

Photos: © Christian Sardet & The Macronauts