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North Atlantic Bloom
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
The intense blue and green colors of the ocean water in this photo-like image, captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on July 15, 2007, are made by millions of surface-dwelling ocean plants. Called phytoplankton, the plants are the base of the marine food chain. The brilliant color shown here may only be a part of the full bloom. Stocked with nutrients that have built up during the winter and bathed in the long, sunlit days of late spring and early summer, the cool waters of the North Atlantic come alive every year with a vivid display of color that can stretch over thousands of kilometers.