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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The collection of marine and freshwater organisms that can swim freely and are generally independent of currents, ranging in size from microscopic organisms to whales.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A generic term for organisms in the ocean that are capable of swimming independently of currents.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The aggregate of actively swimming animals in a body of water ranging from microscopic organisms to whales.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Swimming organisms considered collectively and in contrast with those that float and those that live upon or in the bottom. See plankton, benthos.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the aggregate of actively swimming animals in a body of water ranging from microscopic organisms to whales


Greek nēkton, neuter of nēktos, swimming, from nēkhein, to swim; see snā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined in 1890 by Ernst Haeckel, from Greek νηκτόν (nēktón), "the swimming". (See Wikipedia.) (Wiktionary)


  • Composition, structure and dynamics of the epipelagic nekton communities.

    Fisheries and aquaculture in the North Pacific (Bering Sea)

  • Within the plankton, holoplankton are those that spend their entire life cycle in the plankton, while meroplankton are those organisms that are only planktonic for part of their lives (usually the larval stage), and then move into the nekton or a benthic habitat.


  • Plankton are unable to swim against ocean currents, while larger nekton such as fish and squid can swim against the flow of the water.


  • Brodeur R.D., and D.M. Ware, 1995. interdecadal variability in distribution and catch rates of epipelagic nekton in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

    California Current large marine ecosystem

  • The plankton, which drifts upon the surface of the sea, is distinct from the nekton, which swims submerged.

    The Worst Journey in the World Antarctic 1910-1913

  • He proceeded to draw divisions between the bottom organisms without power of motion, benthon, the nekton motile life in mid-water, and the plankton or floating life.

    Scott's Last Expedition Volume I


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