Phytoplankton blooms off the coast of Spain Today’s Image of the Day comes courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory and features a look at phytoplankton blooms off the coast of Spain.
The patterns of the phytoplankton bloom take their shape from the water flow. The currents off the coast of Spain and through the Strait of Gibraltar can be notoriously turbulent.
Phytoplankton (/ˌfaɪtoʊˈplæŋktən/) are the autotrophic (self-feeding) components of the plankton community and a key part of ocean and freshwater ecosystems. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν (phyton), meaning “plant“, and πλαγκτός (planktos), meaning “wanderer” or “drifter”.
Phytoplankton obtain their energy through photosynthesis, as do trees and other plants on land. This means phytoplankton must have light from the sun, so they live in the well-lit surface layers (euphotic zone) of oceans and lakes. In comparison with terrestrial plants, phytoplankton are distributed over a larger surface area, are exposed to less seasonal variation and have markedly faster turnover rates than trees (days versus decades). As a result, phytoplankton respond rapidly on a global scale to climate variations.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory