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Phytoplankton Bloom in the Sea of Azov
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Phytoplankton Bloom in the Sea of Azov

April 10, 2013
Phytoplankton forms murky green clouds in the Sea of Azov in this image, acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on July 31, 2004. Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that grow near the surface of a body of water. When phytoplankton blooms are large enough, they are visible from space because of the way they reflect light and color the water. Blooms are common in the Sea of Azov, fed by agricultural runoff and poor water circulation through the narrow Kerch Strait that links it to the Black Sea. The Sea of Azov is the actually the northern section of the Black Sea. Along the western banks of the Sea of Azov is the Sivash Sea, also known as the Putrid Sea. It is almost entirely separated from the Sea of Azov by the Arabat Tongue, the long thin strip of sand on the western shores of the Sea of Azov. The shallow Sivash Sea consists largely of salt marshes, and it has been artificially divided into three separate bodies: the Eastern Sivash, the Central Sivash, and the Western Sivash. In this image, parts of the Central and Western Sivash Seas are colored pink, yellow, and green by industrial enterprises. In particular, the Sivash is a source of table salt and chemicals like bromine, a reddish-brown liquid element commonly extracted from sea water. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC


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