Last update: October 17th, 2019 at 9:00 am
Bright greens and tans fringed the Atlantic Ocean along the coastline of Western Sahara and Mauritania in early January 2016. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on January 3.
The colors are created by sediment, most likely primarily sand and dust that has washed into the ocean from the extremely arid land of western Africa. The largest collection of sediment is in the Bay d’Arguin along Mauritania’s coastline. Sediment in this location comes from deposition from the land, from movement of the tide along the shallow shelf underlying the Bay, and from upwelling of nutrient-rich and sediment-laden waters offshore. This upwelling helps create and maintain a diverse ecosystem in the Bay d’Arguin (also called the Banc d’Arguin) which supports an intensive fishery as well as provide important ground for migrating and wintering bird species, including the spoonbill, flamingos and pelicans.