Earth Matters

Reader Pics: Blooms in the Water

February 5th, 2014 by Mike Carlowicz

Last week we shared an image of an 800-kilometer long bloom of marine protists off the coast of Brazil. In satellite imagery, the bloom appeared navy to black in color, even though the species—Myrionecta rubraappears red when viewed close-up. The blooms tend to occur just below the water surface, so much red light that the protists reflect gets absorbed before it returns to the satellite. Here’s a look at the January bloom from a boat in the South Atlantic.

Brazil bloom closeup 1

The photos were taken in the late afternoon on January 22, 2014. The boat was positioned at roughly 24° 08′ South and 45° 07′ West. The water temperature was 29°Celsius (84°Fahrenheit) and the depth was 70 meters (230 feet).


Brazil bloom closeup 2

Thanks to Julio Cardoso, a boater and amateur scientist from Brazil who shared the photos with us. Thanks are due as well to Dr. Aurea Maria Ciotti of the Universidade de São Paulo, who helped us identify the species and the nature of the bloom.

As of February 5, 2014, the bloom appeared to be subsiding, though clouds and haze made it difficult to see clearly from satellites. You can continue to monitor the area by clicking here.

2 Responses to “Reader Pics: Blooms in the Water”

  1. Julio Cardoso says:


    Thanks for publishing my pictures and help us with the pursuit of this gigantic bloom here at the Brazil Southeast Coast. Just for the record…I’m not from Rio de Janeiro, but from Sao Paulo more precisely from Ilhabela (one of the most beautiful Islands in the world… much nicer than Rio…)


    Julio Cardoso

  2. Julio Cardoso says:


    Just to keep you updated, there are still areas were the red bloom persist around here and we will be checking again in the next days to look for it and get more samples if is the case.
    I will keep you posted on that.