The waters of the Barents Sea off the northeast coast of Norway (bottom left) were bright with a bloom of phytoplankton on August 12, 2008, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite passed overhead and captured this photo-like image. Phytoplankton are tiny plant-like organisms that are the foundation of the ocean food web. Like plants, they contain chlorophyll and other pigments that they use to harvest sunlight for photosynthesis. In northern waters, these organisms are starved for sunlight much of the year, but during the summer months, they explode in colorful blooms such as this one.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.