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Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010
Plymouth plankton photographs go on show at London Zoo
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Eucampia zodiacus
The stunning images are of plankton found in Plymouth's waters

Plymouth's fascinating underwater life is taking centre stage at exhibitions at London Zoo and Torquay's Living Coasts.

Stunning images of plankton found in Plymouth's coastal waters will form one of the main attractions of the London Zoo science exhibition, Ocean Drifters.

Dr Richard Kirby is a Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth.

He took the magnified, high resolution images over a two-year period.

From 2007 to 2009 he captured the images using research vessels MBA Sepia and Plymouth Quest.

The event is expected to attract over half a million visitors and is part of the Royal Society's 350th anniversary celebrations in the City and is set to reveal the great variety of life within the marine plankton.

Dr Kirby also has another exhibition on plankton at Living Coasts in Torquay.

This exhibition is called Floating Zoo and is also supported by the Royal Society's 350 celebrations.

Actinotrocha larva. Dr Richard Kirby
This highly magnified image is of Actinotrocha larva

Living Coasts will be running half-term workshops on plankton from February 13-21.

Dr Kirby said: "Marine plankton are the unsung heroes of life on Earth but not many people realise how important they are and the serious threat they face from climate change.

"The plankton are a hidden, rarely seen microcosm of life and yet they underpin the whole marine food chain, provide the world with oxygen, and play a central role in the global carbon cycle.

"Living at the surface of the sea the plankton are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature.

"As their habitat alters rapidly as a consequence of global climate change, their distributions, abundance and seasonality are changing with ramifications for the whole marine food web and for the ecology of our entire planet."

The exhibition will also chart the progress of the scientific equipment used to study the organisms over the last 100 years.

"The exhibition is a marvellous opportunity to showcase not only the science supported by the Royal Society but also the science at the University of Plymouth," said Dr Kirby.

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