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Large Phytoplankton Bloom East of Valdes Peninsula, Argentina – December 1st, 2009

44.5S 59.7W

December 1st, 2009 Category: Image of the day, Phytoplankton

Argentina - November 17th, 2009

Argentina - November 17th, 2009

A large phytoplankton bloom is visible in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Valdes Peninsula in the northeast of Argentina’s Chubut Province. The bloom is most intense near the white vortex of the area of convection over the ocean. In that area ocean currents have created swirled patterns in the bloom, while to the northwest the patterns become more band-like.

Phytoplankton are plant-like organisms that live in the surface waters of the ocean, growing best in cooler waters where upwelling (the mixing of nutrient-rich deep water with surface water) occurs. The cold Falkland Current, which sweeps north from Antarctica along the coast of Argentina, may be a contributing factor to this bloom. The Atlantic Ocean in this region is chilled by the current and by upwelling, allowing nutrient-rich water to reach the surface where phytoplankton can thrive.

The dark blue and greenish colours are from chlorophyll, a green pigment found in most plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. The clear, lighter blue colours on the other hand are not from chlorophyl, but probably from coccoliths, individual plates of calcium carbonate formed by coccolithophores (single-celled algae).

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