Last update: November 14th, 2019 at 11:00 am
A large and spectacular bloom of living color decorated the South Atlantic Ocean off of the Valdes Peninsula, Argentina in mid-April, 2016. The bright greens, blues, and teals which color the ocean appear to twist and swirl in the offshore waters while duller greens and milky blues spread out from the central mass to cover hundreds of miles of ocean.
This brilliant bloom, which is easily seen from space, has been created by the congregation of massive numbers of microscopic, plant-like organisms called phytoplankton. Phytoplankton live in this area year-round, but in small numbers. Only when conditions are right – when there are enough nutrients and sunlight along with favorable ocean temperatures, do they begin to vigorously reproduce, or “bloom”.
In this location, such blooms are common in both fall and spring, although smaller blooms may occur anytime. While the blooms may endure for many weeks – sometimes even months – the life span of each individual organism may be as short as just a few days.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on April 14, 2016.