Polychaeta. (Photo courtesy of Tara Oceans.)

The Tara Oceans is a 118-foot research ship that collects ocean zooplankton and phytoplankton — microscopic marine organisms that we often know nothing about. These tiny critters have a crucial place at the bottom of the food chain, but global warming is killing them off at a rate of 1 percent per year. The Tara Oceans wants to chronicle these often-unstudied species before they’re lost — because they’re important, because they’re rare and mysterious, and also because they’re SO WEIRD.

Copepod. (Photo courtesy of Tara Oceans.)

Barnacle. (Photo courtesy of Tara Oceans.)

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Planet magazine has way more pics in their gallery here.

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