Through hundreds of photographs, Plankton transports readers into the currents, where jeweled chains hang next to phosphorescent chandeliers, spidery claws jut out from sinuous bodies, and gelatinous barrels protect microscopic hearts. The creatures’ vibrant colors pop out against the black pages, allowing readers to examine every eye and follow every tentacle. Jellyfish, tadpoles, and bacteria all find a place in the book, representing the broad scope of organisms dependent on drifting currents.Christian Sardet’s enlightening text explains the biological underpinnings of each species while connecting them to the larger living world. He begins with plankton’s origins and history, then dives into each group, covering ctenophores and cnidarians, crustaceans and mollusks, worms and tadpoles. He also demonstrates the indisputable impact of plankton in our lives.

Also available in French German Japanese and Chinese.

«Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World» was awarded «Best Underwater World Publication» by the World Festival of Underwater Images (Marseille 2014)

QR codes inserted in the chapters of the book provide access to “Plankton Chronicles” videos for total immersion.

Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World

University of Chicago Press (May 2015)
550 photos, 224 pages,
Format 24 x 32 cm
Hardcover, list price: $ 45
Ebook: $ 27
Release date: October 2013

“Filled with more than five hundred close-ups of jewel-like diatoms and gelatinous comb jellies, each accompanied by a condensed history and biography, the book is a long overdue introduction to the oceans’ ninety-eight percent.”

New Yorker

“It’s the catalog of a mission that has revealed just how diverse and gorgeous the lowly plankton can be, and how indispensable they are to life on Earth.”


“Striking close-up photos and micrographs take center stage . . . revealing the dazzling diversity of these tiny creatures—from microscopic unicellular organisms to complex crustaceans.”


“In this beautiful book, marine scientist Christian Sardet shows that tiny plankton, not enormous blue whales, are the real stars of the ocean.”


“An extraordinary new book highlights the remarkable diversity of plankton.”

The Guardian

“Beautiful and informative, and written for a broad audience, Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World should be on everyone’s gift list this year.”


Photo: Dennis Allen

Christian Sardet


Christian Sardet obtained a biochemical engineering degree from l’INSA (Lyon, France) and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a founder of the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the Marine Station of Villefranche-sur-Mer, IMEV, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Sorbonne Université.

Presently emeritus research director at the CNRS, Christian Sardet is the author of numerous scientific publications on the cell and molecular biology of fertilization and development of embryos, and more recently on plankton. He is the recipient of the Grand Prix des Sciences de la Mer from the French Academy of Sciences. Creator of award-winning documentaries, animated films and DVDs, Christian received the European Award for Communication in Life Sciences from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Christian Sardet was a co-founder and one of the scientific coordinators of the Tara Oceans expedition, devoted to a global study of plankton in all the oceans of the world.

The « Plankton Chronicles » project was made to accompany the expedition. Initiated with CNRS Images (Véronique Kleiner, Catherine Balladur) the project continues today with Noé Sardet and Sharif Mirshak (Parafilms).

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