What Is a Plankton Net Used For?

plankton-net-used Credit: Gavin Parsons/Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

Scientists working in aquatic environments use plankton nets with an ultra-fine mesh to collect tiny plankton from water. In a typical design, a wire hoop is attached to a funnel-shaped net. The net is suspended from support strings tied to a key ring.

Plankton nets are towed through oceans, rivers, bays, streams, lakes and other bodies of water, allowing scientists to find different types of plankton and zooplankton. The mesh has to be small enough to trap microscopic organisms. The bottom of each net is connected to a collection container secured by a string. Captured plankton are concentrated in the container for easy transport to a lab or classroom.