Published October 2022 in US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand. Can be ordered from your favourite bookstore or online site. PLANKTONIA is a popular large format hardcover written for ages 10 to adult with 160+ state-of-the-art photos. Firefly Books, US, Canada and UK, Japanese rights sold and translated versions in other languages pending, bibliography, glossary, index, 10 x 10 inches (25.4 cm square), 176 pages. ISBN-10: 0228103835; ISBN-13: 978-0228103837

When people hear the word “migration,” they think of animals that move from a feeding area to a breeding area and back each year. But the greatest migration on Earth happens twice every night. The movement is largely vertical and performed by plankton followed by predatory fish, squid, octopus and other species that have acquired a taste for plankton. The migration starts deep in the waters of the ocean at sunset. As they move, the plankton nibble on plant plankton and other tasty morsels in the water and, eventually, some on each other. The feeding ends just before dawn when the plankton retreat to the depths of the ocean to hide during the day until the next evening, when they migrate back up the water column. 

In Planktonia, Erich Hoyt invites readers to dive into the dazzling nighttime ocean. Countless microscopic plankton — larval creatures such as ornate ghost pipefish, left-handed hermit crabs and bony-eared assfish — ascend to the upper waters to feed, returning to the depths before sunrise. These tiny planktonic creatures are delicate and beautiful; some look terrifying; and most look nothing like the creatures they will become as adults. This great vertical migration attracts larger adult creatures, too, from the solitary 6-inch (15 cm) bigfin reef squid and the fierce and hungry 6 1/2 foot (2 m) female blanket octopus, which is up to 40,000 times heavier than her male mate. Everyone comes here for the midnight feast, and they are all ravenously hungry. 

Chapters in this book include:

  1. Introducing a Cast of Trillions
  2. Hawai’i: From Bluewater to Blackwater 
  3. Awesome Anilao 
  4. The Gulf Stream Procession of Life 
  5. Blackwater White Sea 
  6. Precious Life of Plankton 
  7. Blackwater Unlimited 
  8. From Blackwater Passion to Protection. 

All life in the ocean depends on plankton. Plankton plays a key role in sequestering carbon against climate change. The great nightly vertical migration highlights the importance of protecting not only ocean species but also ecosystems that embrace ocean processes from the depths of the sea to surface waters.

What reviewers are saying about PLANKTONIA

— Special feature by Dr Helen Scales in ‘Discover Wildlife’, reviewing the best popular science books on marine and coastal wildlife, with Planktonia leading the list: “Featuring stunning detailed images throughout, Hoyt’s latest book examines the nightlife of these tiny ocean plankton and the stories of the wildlife photographers that join them in darkness to capture their vertical migrations.”

— Book Highlight of the Month in BBC Wildlife, October issue, author interview and lead review: “Welcome to the world of plankton….Thanks to the increase in popularity of both macrophotography and diving in the open sea at night, we now have visual evidence of just how eclectic and vibrant these plankton are. Planktonia is a tribute to these photographers and the scientists they work with to document the many species and their unique attributes and behaviours.”


— Recommended as one of “the best books to give as gifts this Christmas 2022” by Geographical Magazine:  “Noted conservationist and marine scientist, Hoyt elegantly explains the importance of this awesome phenomenon [of vertical migration] not just for our oceans but how it helps regulate the whole planet. The stunning photography captures these mysterious creatures and their midnight feast in detail, from the ornate ghost pipefish to the bony-eared assfish.”

— Review in Hakai Magazine, Canada, 9 September 2022; “When the world seems wearying, sometimes stunning photos and a few shots of natural history fabulosity can help. Planktonia, the latest book by prolific author Erich Hoyt, is a great antidote. The large-format book includes 150 color photos of planktonic creatures in their otherworldly glory with a focus on their world at night, when countless plankton ascend to surface waters to feed and reverse the trip at sunrise. This vertical migration is, as Hoyt writes, ‘the greatest migration on Earth,’ and includes ‘miniature creatures of intricate design, a riot of color, near-transparency or iridescence, and flashing lights. The book’s eight chapters open with a brief explanation of the topic at hand, followed by state-of-the-art blackwater photography of plankton with natural history notes.  Planktonia is a great book to keep on hand—read it cover to cover or dip in now and then when you need a dose of nature’s dazzle.”

Quill & Quire’s Fall Nonfiction Previews, September 2022: ”Conservationist and scientist Erich Hoyt brings readers into the nighttime ocean to reveal the midnight feast for countless microscopic plankton that range from the tiny and delicate to the human-sized and terrifying.”

— Eight-page excerpt with photographs in Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, October 2022 issue: “In Planktonia, The Nightly Migration of the Ocean’s Smallest Creatures, Erich Hoyt introduces us to some of ocean’s most extraordinary and vital life-forms.

— Cover story and eight-page excerpt in Natural History Magazine, New York, October 2022 issue.

— Eight-page excerpt in Dive Magazine, December 2022 issue.

— Author interview, Nature Book Guide December issue: naturebookguide.com

— Podcasts with So You Want To Be a Marine Biologist podcast; Matt Testoni, SeaCreatures podcast; and the Marine Conservation Happy Hour

To review the book or write a feature article, please contact erich.hoyt<at symbol>me.com