And…What is This?

Have your students found some organisms or structures which are not in the Identification Photo Guide?

Do not worry, it happens all the time. In each droplet of the plankton sample there is an extraordinary diversity of organisms, and contrary to what you would at first think, there is not a single specialized scientist in plankton in the world who is capable of identifying each and every single organism present in that droplet of plankton sample you are now looking at in your microscope. The great variety of plankton species that exist (many of which besides exhibit numerous distinct larval forms), has compelled specialization in the study of the different groups. Thus, we can find specialists in diatoms, in dinoflagellates, in radiolaires, in tintinnids, in crustacean copepods, in hydromedusas and siphonophores, etc. – but never a single specialist able to identify all the elements of the sample at the same time. That is why it is common to find a number of components in each sample whose identification at a specific or even generic level will only be approximate, as well as structures or elements that are difficult to categorise. Only with certain techniques like scanning electron microscopy or specific tinctions for fluorescence microscopy, and in the hands of an experienced specialist will reliable identification of an organism be possible. In any case, that is beyond our goals. That is why the identification procedures set out here are simple and safe, with no other pretention than being purely educational. Nevertheless, it may occur that during observations, striking organisms or structures might be found which might not be featured in the  Identification Photo Guide. In that case, our service …And What Is This? will try to solve the problem. You just have to send us a photograph (which you can take with your mobile phone, compact camera or tablet following the simple procedure described in the FAQ's section) and send it to We will try to answer all your questions.


ANSWER: Dadayella ganymedes (Ciliata Tintinnidae)


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