The surface waters of the Bering Sea around the Pribilof Islands, off Alaskas west coast, exhibited a dark green color on May 15, 2002, in this SeaWiFS true-color image. The green color of the currents there suggests the presence of a large phytoplankton bloom. Careful inspection reveals some a reddish tinges of light reflected by this bloom, particularly in a long east to west band just south of the Pribilof Islands, and just north of the Aleutian Island chain (disappearing toward the lower righthand corner of this scene beneath the cloud bank). Some scientists speculate this could be another Phaeocystis bloom, similar to the bloom of this species that was observed in these waters roughly this time last year. Such blooms are typically accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor in the immediate vicinity.
The light brown color of the surface waters along the Alaskan shoreline are probably due to suspended sediments washed off from the land.
Reminiscent of the distinctive swirls in a Van Gogh painting, millions of microscopic plants color the waters of the North Atlantic with strokes of blue, turquoise, green, and brown. Fed by nutrients that have built up during the winter and 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. The microscopic plants, called phytoplankton, that give the water this color are the base of the marine food chain.