Nekton: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of a Nekton
  • 1:21 Other Examples of Nektons
  • 2:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
If you've never heard of a 'nekton,' what do you visualize when you hear the word? You'd be forgiven for thinking of 'a type of necktie,' but a nekton is actually related to the world of marine life. Read on to better understand this ecological term.

Definition of a Nekton

A nekton is a group of water or marine organisms that travel together freely. These organisms can be fish, crustaceans or mollusks that live in an ocean or a lake. They tend to move without the help of the current. Generally speaking, they are vertebrates, or animals that have bones or cartilage, are powerful swimmers, and are larger than microbes.

The organisms in a nekton can be compared to the way plankton move; however, the major distinction is that creatures in nektons can move independently. Nekton organisms sometimes, when small, are similar to plankton and transition into nektons as they grow.

Individual organisms that form nektons are generally high on the food chain, ecologically, and some of their main predators are humans. Think of some of the most popular marine life that humans eat -- crabs, shrimp and tuna, for instance. These are all examples of organisms that form nektons. A general rule of thumb is that many organisms that humans eat that come from marine or lake ecosystems form nektons. This being said, there are a few nekton organisms that are endangered today:

  • The Blue Whale
  • Leatherback Turtle
  • Dugong (aka Sea Cow)

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