Phytoplankton Bloom in the Great Australian Bight
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Phytoplankton Bloom in the Great Australian Bight

September 10, 2009
Swirls of blue and green are visible along the coastline of Australia in this image, captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on August 26, 2009. This coloration in the water is due to the presence of phytoplankton in the water. Phytoplankton are tiny marine organisms 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. The proliferation of many different species in various stages of growth and decay can provide many nuances of color.

This particular region of Australia is called the The Great Australian Bight. A bight is an indentation or scallop along a coastline that forms an open bay. In the case of the Great Australian Bight, which lies along the western part of the South Australian Coast, the bay is created by the Indian Ocean. This bight extends to the eastern coast of southern Western Australia and lies south of the Nullarbor Plain.

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