Phytoplankton

Some of the main drivers of the oceanic food web are phytoplankton. Although “Red Tide” is simply a common term for algae blooms occurring in the ocean, some species of phytoplankton (plant-like organisms) are toxic and may be harmful to large mammals via concentrated vectors. In the Chilean Fjords, krill and other aggregate animals like Munida subrugosa may eat toxic phytoplankton, live unaffected and later be eaten by larger mammals. As these creatures are the main food source for baleen whales in the region, Expedition HF27 will be conducting plankton tows in order to identify the presence and abundance of toxic Red Tide species which may or may not have played a role in the whales’ deaths.