Interview with Phil the Phytoplankton

Phil, I'm not a biologist, so would you please tell me a little about yourself?

Sure. I'm a phytoplankton and I'm dinky.

You mean small?

Yes, super small, as in microscopic. Some of my kind are bacteria and some are protists, which means our cells contain complex structures within membranes. Most of us are single-celled plants.

Plants with only one cell? I'm trying to picture how my wife would go about triming them, and how confusing it would be for my dog Darwin when he's looking for a place to lift his leg.

Your humor is befitting of a single-celler...there may be room for you among our ranks.

Okay Phil, let's keep it moving...I'm curious about a couple kinds of phytoplankton. We'll start with cyanobacteria. Wuz up with that stuff?

Cyanos, what a great group of phytos! They really know how to party. Why just last month on the Caloosahatchee River near Fort Myers, they practically took over the entire river!

That wasn't nice.

No, no, you don't understand. Cyanos are not greedy or aggressive. They partied at the river because they were invited!


Of course. They wanted nothing to do with that river until you humans changed the natural balance of its flow from Lake Okeechobee. After years of agricultural build-up in the lake and messing with the natural drainage, you practically announced a free party!

Enough about the party already. Tell me more about cynos.

They're also known as blue-green algae. They're a type of bacteria that get their energy through photosynthesis. Some of the oldest cynos are thought to have converted Earth's early reduction atmosphere into an atmosphere of increased oxidation. Think about that! We revolutionized the world!

Don't act too high and mighty Phil. We're changing the world too.

You sure are. And perhaps someday it will be for the better!

Nobody likes a smartass phytoplankton. If you don't mind, let's just keep your answers simple.

Ha! No problem. You're proof of what happens when an organism tries to complicate life.

All right Phil, I give up. Let's change the direction of this interview. Since you seem to know so much about us, how about some advice.

Now we're talking!

What can we learn from you?


Nothing? Why do you say that?

Because you're too arrogant. And greedy. And of course, ugly.

And you're not all those things?

We're ugly too, but at least we keep life simple. In doing so, we seek no more than our basic needs.

And we don't?

No, you want it all. And you'll do anything to get it. You...rather, your kind...are never satisfied with basic needs. You're not happy until you've conquered every inch of Earth and every organism on it. The wealthier and more powerful among you ensure you have all you want by buying your way into political office and passing laws that do more for you and your croonies than what's right for all. You dilute regulations that are designed to keep the honest honest. You have no shame and no ethics.

Yeah Phil, but you gotta love our Gators football team.

And that's all you have to show for a few million years of evolution?

That's not a fair critique. Look how long you've had to get it right!

We got it right early on. Which is why we haven't wiped ourselves out. You guys have done well for yourselves with technology but you haven't a clue how to get along.

So again, any advice?

Slow down. Breathe. Care for one another. Treat all life with equal importance. Don't want for more than you need. Learn to listen and trust one another. Don't let your religious or cultural differences divide you. Oh, and hug a phytyplankton.