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Phytoplankton Bloom off South Africa
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Phytoplankton Bloom off South Africa

February 21, 2013
Since late March 2003, a phytoplankton bloom has been occurring off the western coast of South Africa. Reports from water sampling at the site indicate that it is a rather unusual red tide containing a mixture of organisms called dinoflagellates and a species of coccolithophore called Syrachosphaera pulchra, which is an unusually large species of coccolithophore. A coccolithophore is an organism that has a chalky, calcium-based outer covering that reflects sunlight very strongly back from the ocean surface. Ocean waters that contain the organism appear very bright blue or green. This series of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images were acquired in March and April 2003 by the Terra and Aqua satellites. In some images, a handful of fires (red dots) are visible in South Africa. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC