BBC Earth has teamed up with SpongeBob SquarePants to teach us all a little something about one of life’s most indispensable, and overlooked, creatures -- plankton.
In the video above, watch as SpongeBob’s enemy, the curmudgeonly Sheldon J. Plankton, explains his importance to the pants-wearing sponge.
“You love all the big stuff [like cute penguins and majestic whales] … but none of that stuff would exist without plankton like me,” Sheldon rants. “No plankton, no sea life … no nothing. The food you eat, the air you breathe.”
Plankton -- which includes both plant-like organisms called phytoplankton and animal-like organisms called zooplankton -- plays an critical role in sustaining life on Earth. It’s not only a primary food source for many marine animals, but it's also responsible for providing half of the world’s oxygen supply.
Marine biologist Christian Sardet, who has been studying plankton for years, told Wired.com in a recent interview that plankton is “the most ancient and diverse ecosystem on the planet.”
“People talk a lot about biodiversity, in the Amazon or whatever. But in terms of real biodiversity it’s really the plankton,” he said.
Watch the clip above.
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