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From VOA Learning English, this is the Science Report.
A four-year long study discovered that plankton are a major supplier of oxygen on our planet. They are a group of different small ocean animals and algae, bacteria and other organisms. They live close to the water’s surface in oceans, seas and lakes. Plankton cannot be seen without a microscope. But they are the main source of food for larger animals, like whales. Recently, 200 scientists from 45 countries took turns researching plankton on a boat. The scientists collected 35,000 plankton samples. They followed the lives of plankton, examined their genetic material and watched their movements. A French non-profit group called Tara Expeditions launched the project, known as Tara Oceans. Chris Bowler was the project’s scientific coordinator. He says the researchers found that plankton are very important to the health of our planet. He says they make the oxygen we breathe, and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Mr. Bowler says almost half of the oxygen we breathe comes from very small algae called diatoms. These plants live in the part of the ocean that receives sunlight. Romain Troublé is the executive director of Tara Oceans. He believes the study shows that the ocean is the Earth’s climate machine. He says the ocean is a main driver of climate change in the way that the ocean is storing carbon dioxide and heat. The machinery works, he says, because the ocean is in good health. Results of the study appeared in the online scientific journal Science.