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Plankton is not a species. It's a collective name for all the tiny marine and freshwater life that exist in a floating state. Too small or weak to fight the currents, they drift where the water takes them.
Apart from bacteria, these plants, animals, and other types of organisms are the most abundant life form on Earth and play a critical role in the marine food chain.
Above: Aglaura hemistoma, a very small jellyfish that's no more than about 4 millimeters in diameter.
To create his photographs, Minemizu spends about eight hours a day underwater, drifting and waiting for the right moment to press the shutter. He shoots during the day and night using a lighting system he developed to highlight the vivid colors and fantastic shapes of plankton as small as 2 millimeters.
Above: Larva of Limidae, a bivalve mollusk.
The sunlit upper layers of the ocean, the epipelagic zone, are home to many young fish that will live at greater depths when they are adults. This zone is like a cradle for the plankton where they are constantly nurtured and fed.
Above: A larval fish of Arnoglossus yamanakai.
A larval cusk-eel fish. Adult cusk-eels live near the seabed.
A larval flying fish.
An octopus larva surrounded by various types of salpa (translucent, floating animals found in warm water).
A larval long arm octopus.
Larva of a sipunculid worm. Adults are long, slender, live on the ocean floor, and, according to Minemizu, are "grotesque."
This juvenile Trachipterus trachypterus fish is about 6 inches long. Adults of the species can be 9 feet in length.
A paralarva of Thysanoteuthis rhombus.
A young fish of Champsodon snyderi.
The fish turns black as it becomes an adult and sinks into the shallow sand of the seabed.
Planktonic larva of a sea anemone.
A juvenile ribbon fish, about 2.5 inches in length. Adults are more than 3 feet long.
A larval crab has long spines sticking out of its body.
"The Secret World of Plankton" will be on display at Foto Care in New York City from June 21 -24. For information on the opening reception, click here.
For information on Ryo Minemizu's free photography workshop at Foto Care on June 22, click here.