Phytoplankton Bloom in the North Atlantic Ocean
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Phytoplankton Bloom in the North Atlantic Ocean

July 27, 2009
Swirls of blue color the North Atlantic Ocean in this image, captured by the MODIS on the Terra satellite on July 13, 2009. This part of the ocean is just east of Newfoundland, and south of Greenland.

The coloration in the water is due to microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton. Phytoplankton can color the water a variety of colors, though here we see mostly blue. This is due to varying concentrations and types of phytoplankton and the chlorophyll and other pigments they contain. Sometimes when the color is very dark it is due to extremely high levels of phytoplankton - so much light is being absorbed by chlorophyll that the water appears dark!

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