Phytoplankton Bloom off the Coast of France
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Phytoplankton Bloom off the Coast of France

May 29, 2009
Off the coast of France, just south of England, the waters are colored with bright greens and blues. This is a bloom of tiny marine organisms called phytoplankton, that, much like their land-based plant relatives, use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into food.

Some species of phytoplankton are coated with scales of calcium (chalk), which can turn the water electric blue. Chlorophyll and other light-capturing pigments in others give the water a deep green hue. Very dark green areas could be caused by extremely high levels of phytoplankton - so much light is being absorbed by chlorophyll that the water appears dark! The proliferation of many different species in various stages of growth and decay can provide many nuances of color.

This image was acquired by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on May 22, 2009.

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