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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 1:20 EDT
Algal bloom off Peru
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Algal bloom off Peru

March 9, 2004
The true-color image above shows a patch of bright water off the coast of Chincha Alta, Peru, roughly 200 km (124 miles) south of Lima. The scene was acquired on February 23, 2004, by the Aqua MODIS instrument. The bright yellow-green coloration of the water is probably the result of biological activity—possibly either some species of algae, or possibly even sulfur granules suspended near the surface (similar to the sulfur event that occurs occasionally off the coast of Namibia). The waters along the west coast of South America are some of the most biologically fertile in the world. This is due mainly to the Humboldt Ocean Current —- a very cold, deep current flowing from Antarctica past the southern tip of Chile and northward to Peru.