Amazing pictures of plankton reveal a very different side to life in the sea and may make you think twice next time you go into the water.
From spider crabs to starfish larvae, these creatures live in their billions off the British coast and have been photographed by Dr Richard Kirby, of the University of Plymouth, for a new exhibition.
'They account for half the world's photosynthesis and help regulate our climate.

Life under the sea: The spider crab larva is one of billions of creatures living in our waters

'Over millions of years dead plankton created our oil and gas reserves and single cell phytoplankton were responsible for the White Cliffs of Dover.
'They also form a food web without which there would be no fish,' added Dr Kirby.
The pictures show the two types of plankton; phytoplankton, which are plant-like, and zooplankton - animals.

This is no science-fiction film: Echinoderm Ludia sarsii (left) and the larva of a jellyfish (right) were photographed off England's south-west coast

Despite being less than 2mm long, plankton can be seen from space when they form massive blooms.
'People who see them are surprised because they learn exactly what is in the sea when they go for a swim and what they may swallow,' said Dr Kirby.
Dr Kirby's photographs will tour the Blue Reef, Blue Planet and Deep Sea World aquariums across the country throughout 2009.
Most fish, including the sardine, spawn their eggs (pictured) in the plankton as it is such a good place for the young fish to feed

The little monsters under the sea | Mail Online