Earth Matters

Yes, that bloom really is that color…

August 23rd, 2011 by Mike Carlowicz


Ever since we posted an image last week of a coccolithophore plankton bloom, I have been trading notes with Peter Eick, an Earth Observatory reader and seismic surveyor working in the Barents Sea. “I look at your site every morning,” he wrote. “I found today kind of neat since I am in your picture and saw the event firsthand.”

Peter spends half to two-thirds of each year traveling the world for work, and he has seen some compelling phenomena along the way. “The scary things are the red blooms (PDF) in the Persian Gulf or the jellyfish packs in the Gulf of Paria. Both just make you want to pray that the ship does not sink.”

Last week, Peter and fellow shipmates noticed an unusual color to the seas around their ship, and the stillness of the water. He shared a few photos from the aft (back) deck of the ship:

“It was quite a unique color for the water, almost a cyan,” he wrote. “We thought it might have been some sort of algae or sediment event initially, but then the whales came in and really were common in it.  They must have been eating the animals that live off the bloom.”

“Normally the arctic is a brilliant deep blue, and very scenic (except when it is rough). It is still rough right now, but the weather is going to lay down in the middle of next week. I will try and get you some more pictures that really show how deep the cyan is. It’s pretty amazing if you are used to the normal, blue-water deep ocean.”

We can see many intriguing things from space, and the science of remote sensing has been developing for at least a half a century. Still, it is always nice to have some “ground truth”…to see images from up close, at the Earth’s surface that confirm what we see from space. Thanks to Peter for sharing.

If you have a timely photo of a phenomenon or landscape that we present on Earth Observatory, drop us a line. We can’t promise to use them, but you never know what you may inspire us to do.

PS – If you want to see more images of the bloom, look here and here

2 Responses to “Yes, that bloom really is that color…”

  1. Christopher says:

    radiation? LOL

  2. Jvw says:

    Where do you see the change in water color?