Alaska Public Media —
The tiny but mighty phytoplankton live at the base of the food chain in the Gulf of Alaska. They’re a food source for small crustaceans, which in turn feed small fish, then bigger fish, then seabirds and marine mammals.
Each spring and summer, a large concentration of phytoplankton blooms in the gulf. This year, researchers recorded the biggest bloom they’ve ever seen.
“Which theoretically means we should have a very productive year at a whole bunch of other steps in the food chain,” said Russ Hopcroft, a professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
He said the phytoplankton bloom in itself is nothing out of the ordinary.
“Part of the natural cycle in the Gulf of Alaska is that when the light starts coming back in the spring and the storms start to subside a little bit, we get a big explosion of life in the phytoplankton,” he said.