Deadly Killer You’ve Never Seen #poem #poetry #ocean #evolution #plankton #marinebiology

“Little bugs have littler bugs
On their backs to bite ’em.
And littler bugs have littler bugs
And so on in ad infinitum.”

No! Only to a single cell,
Where there’s a fearsome hunter,
A dinoflagellate
That loves to eat its brothers.

It can harpoon or poison prey,
But that’s not all that’s weird.
It has an eye and wields a net
That planktons need to fear.

It takes a scanning electron microscopy
To see this tiny breed
An organic Gatling gun,
The littlest bug indeed.

By Kate Rauner

Thanks to for their article on plankton. The quoted lines are often attributed to Ogden Nash, though the exact wording seems to have changed over time. Read more of my science-inspired poetry today.


Ocean to Sky #poem #Plankton #Clouds #poetry #nature


Diatoms through a microscope

From agitation of the waves
Aerosols float skywards,
Originating in the seas
And sending droplets higher.

Particles that form the heart
Of clouds reflecting light,
Pile high into the sky.
But why are they so bright?

From space our satellites discover
Clouds, composed in summer
Of tiny droplets from the sea,
That create this wonder.

A happy side effect
Of photons striking molecules,
Sugars built with sunlight
To be each cell’s working fuel.

Tiny creatures manufacture
Amides and triphosphate,
And phytoplankton in the seas
Release a propionate.

Plankton bloom by trillions,
A bubbly scum upon the waves,
That winds can loft with ease
So cooling clouds they gave.

As acid rises in the seas
From airborne C O 2,
The plankton’s bloom will surely fade
‘Neath hotter skies
Than we’re used to.

by Kate Rauner

As explained by “The clouds over the Southern Ocean reflect significantly more sunlight in the summertime than they would without these huge plankton blooms.” Clouds reflect some of the sun’s heat, affecting climate. Microscopic plankton also “supply half of the planet’s oxygen.” The study is covered in many outlets. You can read more on plankton and photosynthesis, too.

Ocean Current Helmsmen #poetry #ocean

Sea monkeys - a favorite of comic book ads

Sea monkeys – a favorite of comic book ads

The fairy shrimp I netted
In thickly stagnant ponds
Have cousins in the oceans
And the oceans may respond.
Once thought as floating helpless,
Adrift at waters’ whim,
It seems they may create
Currents as they swim.
Swarms of tiny sea-monkeys,
Each with its own motility,
Make swirls and eddies as they swim;
Fluidic instability.
Great herds of plankton could, therefore,
Mix oceans as they swim,
Effect the climate of the world
With their lacy limbs.

This effect needs to be confirmed, but is just too poetic a possibility to ignore. I also couldn’t resist slipping in the fairy shrimp – as a kid, I netted fairy shrimp in a stagnant pond choked with leaves and algae. The shrimp had to swim up to the surface through black water for a little sun. I’d watch them swim in a jar for a while, and then dump them back since I didn’t know what to feed them. I never thought what a billion billion of them might accomplish.