MODIS) image, taken by NASA’s Terra satellite on January 11, 2007.">

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Phytoplankton Bloom in the Great Australian Bight

Phytoplankton Bloom in the Great Australian Bight

Ocean plants color the water of the Great Australian Bight off the shore of Victoria, Australia, in this photo-like Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, taken by NASA’s Terra satellite on January 11, 2007. Called phytoplankton, these microscopic ocean plants live in the sunlit waters near the surface of the ocean. When concentrations of the plants are dense enough, phytoplankton lend the water, typically dark blue or nearly black in satellite images, a blue-green color. Some blooms are toxic to fish and people, but many are harmless or beneficial. Non-toxic phytoplankton stand at the base of the marine food chain. While phytoplankton blooms are visible from space, it’s not possible to tell what type of phytoplankton are growing without samples from the water.

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response team.