Pacific Northwest Phytoplankton Bloom
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Pacific Northwest Phytoplankton Bloom

July 30, 2004
Swirling green blooms of phytoplankton float in the waters off the coast of Washington (United States) and British Columbia (Canada) in this true-color Terra MODIS image from July 23, 2004. While beautiful to observe in satellite imagery, some types of these blooms can be quite harmful. Though there is no way to tell exactly what kind of bloom is pictured here without gathering on-site data, this area is known for harmful algal blooms. Indeed, the Washington State Department of Health recently a number of beaches along this bloom to shellfish harvesting, perhaps indicating that the bloom may be harmful. At least one species of algae, Pseudo-nitzchia spp., has been known to bloom in the area. It releases a harmful biotoxin that causes poisoning in certain shellfish, and may be linked to the Juan de Fuca eddy.

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