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[nek-ton, -tuh n] /ˈnɛk tɒn, -tən/
the aggregate of actively swimming aquatic organisms in a body of water, able to move independently of water currents.
1890-95; < German, noun use of neuter of nēktós swimming (verbid of nḗchein to swim; see nectopod)
Related forms
nektonic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nekton
  • nekton are fast-moving organisms ranging from small shrimp and fish to whales.
  • Some zooplankton live their whole life as plankton, while others change to become nekton and benthos.
  • nekton community composition, as well as the density and length of individuals, are recorded at each sampling location.
  • Pelagic organisms are further divided into plankton and nekton.
  • Trade-offs between gear selectivity and logistics when sampling nekton from shallow open water habitats: a gear comparison study.
British Dictionary definitions for nekton


the population of free-swimming animals that inhabits the middle depths of a sea or lake Compare plankton
Derived Forms
nektonic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: via German from Greek nēkton a swimming thing, from nēkhein to swim
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for nekton

1893, from German nekton (van Heusen, 1890), from Greek nekton, neuter of nektos "swimming," from nekhein "to swim" (see natatorium).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nekton in Science
  (něk'tən, -tŏn')   
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. Compare benthos, plankton.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for nekton

the assemblage of pelagic animals that swim freely, independent of water motion or wind. Only three phyla are represented by adult forms. Chordate nekton include numerous species of bony fishes, the cartilaginous fishes such as the sharks, several species of reptiles (turtles, snakes, and saltwater crocodiles), and mammals such as the whales, porpoises, and seals. Molluscan nekton include the squids and octopods. The only arthropod nekton are decapods, including shrimps, crabs, and lobsters.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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