Written by Christian Sardet, cofounder and scientific coordinator of the Tara Oceans Expedition, Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World assembles hundreds of stunning color photographs and concise descriptions of the ocean’s fascinating and important floating organisms. One of the most wondrous is the dinoflagellate Ceratium ranipes. At sunrise, this plankton grows fingers filled with chloroplasts to optimize its surface area for photosynthesis, which retract at nightfall. An attention-grabbing series of seven photos shows two Liriope tetraphylla capture and ingest a fish hatchling, expelling the residue once the jellyfish had sucked out all of the juices of the tiny fish. A page with three large photographs of pteropods clearly display the different orange, yellow, and green colors of the organisms’ hepatic glands and digestive organs, which the text tells us reflect what these mollusks ate.
Beautiful and informative, and written for a broad audience, Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World should be on everyone’s gift list this year. While older readers may still prefer flipping through a hard copy of this large-format book, the e-book version may be more appealing to the mobile-nimble generation.