Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Messina Strait, a channel in the Mediterranean Sea that separates Sicily and Calabria. The photograph was captured by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station
The Messina Strait is 20 miles long with a depth of 820 feet, and joins the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and the Ionian Sea to the south.
“Waves that follow the tide from west to east are visible in the right half of the photo. These are caused by internal waves, a process where stratified water layers of changing density and increasing depth horizontally propagate beneath the water surface. The waves are illuminated by sunglint—an optical phenomenon that occurs when sunlight is directly reflected off the water and into a satellite’s sensor, or in this case, the astronaut’s camera,” explains NASA.
“Alternating currents, relatively low water temperature, and high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen contribute to the region’s aquatic biodiversity. The strait hosts several deep-sea fish species such as Sloane’s viperfish (a predatory dragonfish) as well as commercially valuable fish like yellowtail and snapper. On the left side of the image, thin, white lines are likely ship wakes, some of which may belong to fishing boats.”
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
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