These web pages, though created for anyone interested in phytoplankton, are
aimed toward the technician and the student who look at water samples daily
and must count and identify the phytoplankton species under normal working
conditions. Though some textbooks and websites display stunning micrographs
of phytoplankton species, few environmental laboratories use electron
microscopes to make routine identifications. Consequently, identifying
phytoplankton can be a long and arduous duty depending on the complexity
and the condition of the sample. It is our hope that students as well as
seasoned technicians will view this collection and find photos of species that
are representative of what they encounter in their own samples
The photos presented include phytoplankton species encountered in the
Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries since 1988. As a tidal estuary, the Chesapeake
Bay and its tributaries offer a multitude of both saline and freshwater phytoplankton
varieties. Also included are phytoplankton species
collected from other areas such as Antarctica, Belize, Abu Dhabi UAE, Panama, Vietnam and India. The photos and data will be updated as additional species are found and
photographed. Films used in the photography were Kodak ASA 40, Kodak ASA 25, Fuji ASA 50,
Agfa ASA 50, and Kodachrome 64. Beginning September 2002, all photo micrographs of
algae have been taken on an Olympus DP12 digital camera attached
to an Olympus IX71
inverted phase microscope. Beginning in July 2011 the DP12 was upgraded to DP12 using cellSens 1.5 software. Photographs were taken by taxonomist Sharyn Hedrick unless
Samples are fixed with a variety of preservatives, any of which can distort the
of certain species, or even destroy those with soft bodies that are often in the same
sample. Frequently, preserved samples sit on shelves for long periods of
time prior to
analysis using light microscopy methods. Distortion may also occur due
to the physical
parameters of the water from which the phytoplankton was taken.
temperature and salinity in an estuarine environment can stress
ambient species so
that when collected and fixed, species that preserve well under normal circumstances
may distort and rupture. Mineral deposits and detritus also
hinder the identification process.
Lastly, the species themselves may fall in a position that the technician has never
encountered before, which can lead to misidentification. There is more than one photo
included of some species in an attempt to show the different shapes a species may
assume when under stress. There are estuarine, oceanic, and freshwater species
in the collection along with microzooplankton and miscellaneous items frequently found
in water samples.
Viewing the pages on this website may be delayed due to the size and number of
photographs. We apologize for any inconvienence this may cause.
Funding for this project is provided by the Smithsonian Environmental Science Program.
Comments and suggestions are welcome. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.