About the project

What is the Plankton Club?

The plankton club is a research-based teaching initiative for undergraduate students to get additional practical lab and field experience. The initiative is conducted on a voluntary basis where students from relevant degree courses have the opportunity to come into the plankton lab on a weekly basis and learn how to identify zooplankton using a stereomicroscope. The student training is supported by a research assistant, PhD researchers and staff. Over time, students will take on the running of the initiative themselves (peer to peer learning) as they progress through various levels of training and certification. An aspiration of the Plankton Club is to build a student-led zooplankton time series.

Our partners and study sites

The Plankton Club is a collaboration between researchers in UCC and the Irish Naval Services. The Naval officers collect plankton samples on a monthly basis from outside Cork Harbour, giving us the opportunity to sample somewhere otherwise inaccessible to us. Check out the video below explaining how they take a sample and what we do with it:

The project also involves a collaboration with MOWI. MOWI is a leading seafood company and the world’s largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon. Zooplankton samples are collected at a MOWI salmon farm in Bantry Bay. The Plankton Club examines the samples for harmful zooplankton species.

Zooplankton samples are also collected at Lough Hyne marine reserve in west Cork. Lough Hyne was designated as Ireland’s first marine reserve in 1981. The samples collected at Lough Hyne are for Fourth Year undergraduate projects as well as being part of a time series.

The image shows a view of Lough Hyne marine reserve from the hill behind the North basin. Castle island in the centre of the lough is visible. The lough is connected to the sea in the background by narrow rapids.
Lough Hyne marine reserve, Co. Cork

Mission statement

The plankton club gives undergraduate students the opportunity to learn lab skills they otherwise would not learn during their studies. These undergraduate students learn to identify zooplankton, both increasing their own knowledge and adding value to the scientific community through the processing of samples collected as part of our zooplankton timeseries. The mission of plankton club is to educate.    


The vision of plankton club is to build up a zooplankton timeseries dataset and to educate the general public on all things plankton