Phytoplankton /ˌfaɪtoʊˈplæŋktən/ are the autotrophic (self feeding) components of the plankton community and a key part of oceans, seas and freshwater basin ecosystems. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν (phyton), meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός (planktos), meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye.
However, when present in high enough numbers, some varieties may be
noticeable as colored patches on the water surface due to the presence
of chlorophyll within their cells and accessory pigments (such as phycobiliproteins or xanthophylls) in some species.