What would be the impact of oil spills on phytoplankton and zooplankton?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Because both forms of plankton spend the daylight hours in the top meter of the ocean, oil, which tends to float, will affect them directly and dramatically.

Phytoplankton, which are photosynthetic, plant-like forms of plankton, need to receive sunlight in order to survive. An oil spill will coat both the plankton and the water's surface, blocking off sunlight and starving the plankton.

Zooplankton, which must eat to survive, will also have issues with the oil spill. Most zooplankton move about by using flagella or cilia, which are very fine hairlike structures. If these structures get coated by oil, the plankton will not be able to move and will starve.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team