Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 21:20 EDT
 Resuspended bottom sediments off Honduras
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Resuspended bottom sediments off Honduras

November 21, 2007
Ocean currents are the cause of the resplendent coloration seen in this image of the Caribbean coastline of Honduras. Sediment from the land surface is carried by streams and deposited into the ocean. Deep undersea currents can sometimes bring them back to the surface. The land-ocean interface, or boundary, in this region is a continuum between mangrove forests on the land and coral reefs in the ocean, with aquatic sea grasses in the middle. These sensitive ecosystems are greatly impacted by sedimentation, particularly by the flooding that is associated with major storm events (like hurricanes). Mangroves and coral reefs are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet; although they comprise only a tiny fraction of the land surface, they produce large amounts of living organic material, or biomass. Sea grasses are important, too, providing habitat (food and shelter) to a variety of aquatic organisms. These ecosystems are under stress for a variety of reasons, including erosion from coastal development, sea level rise, overfishing, and tourism.