Welcome to a website about multicellular zooplankton (mesozooplankton, hereafter referred to simply as zooplankton). Such zooplankton range in size from a rice grain to easily visible ctenophores and jellyfish. Zooplankton belong to many animal phyla: examples are crustaceans like water fleas and copepods, jellyfish, ctenophores, arrow worms, pteropods (swimming snails), and larvae of bottom dwelling animals such as oysters, crabs, fish, and polycheate worms. Zooplankton have many roles in food webs. Some are herbivores eating phytoplankton (single celled algae), bacteriovores (eat bacterioplankton), omnivores eating phytoplankton and unicellular zooplankton (microzooplankton such as ciliates), and predators eating other zooplankton (jellyfish eat copepods).
This website focuses on the zooplankton that inhabit the estuaries and coastal waters of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Coastal waters extend from the beach to the edge of the continental shelf. It is a website for college students taking summer field courses and school year field trips at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station for marine biology and oceanography courses. The website is set up for students of all kinds to identify zooplankton species, add their information to a zooplankton atlas which shows the distribution of previous collections, and contribute to citizen science projects on the website or one that they design.