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       Microscopic algae, phytoplankton, are sometimes called the grasses of the sea. Just like land plants, they consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen through photosynthesis. Phytoplankton are an integral component of the global carbon cycle, which is responsible for regulating the temperature of the planet. They are also the first link in the food chain for
all marine creatures. Their primary consumers are the zooplankton, who in turn become food for larger animals.

       An instrument for monitoring the abundance of phytoplankton and small zooplankton, the Flow Cytometer And Microscope (FlowCAM), detects and takes images of micro-organisms from a stream of water siphoned directly from the ocean. It has a rudimentary image segmentation capability, used to crop out individual organisms. The instrument is used by marine biologists to estimate the population sizes of different plankton species. In particular, scientists are interested in potentially harmful organisms.

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Computer Vision Laboratory University of Massachusetts