Blue swirls of phytoplankton in the South Atlantic. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a phytoplankton bloom in the South Atlantic between South America and the Falkland Islands. The swirls of milky blue water show where large numbers of phytoplankton are present off the western Jason Islands, an archipelago off of West Falkland Island.
“The bright color suggests this might be coccolithophores, although its hard to say for sure,” said Marina Marrari, a biological oceanographer with the Costa Rica Fishing Federation. “In general, there is a species succession at the shelfbreak from diatoms in spring to dinoflagellates to coccolithophores in summer, and this also varies with latitude. October seems early in the season but with the right nutrients it is possible.”
“This is such a beautiful image. To me it really looks like a patch of coccolithophorids because there are no rivers in the Falklands capable of providing such an amount of sediments,” said Priscilla Lange, an expert at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science. “It is a pretty large patch, and blooms of coccolithophorids are so common in this area. It is also possible to see blooms of other phytoplankton (dark patches) in the middle of the white swirls.” Blue swirls of phytoplankton in the South Atlantic
The image was captured on October 18, 2020 by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory