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Phytoplankton and Coccolithophores in the Bering Sea
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated.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 Bering Straitthe stretch of water between Siberia and Alaskafeatures
some of the worlds most productive ocean waters. This Sea-viewing Wide
Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) image from June 26 & 27, 2000, shows phytoplankton
covering vast stretches of water. Phytoplankoton are microscopic plants that form the
base of the marine food chain.
The green water on the left features a high concentration of phytoplankton.
On the right, off the west coast of Alaska, a bloom of a specific type of phytoplankton,
coccolithophores, appears bright blue-green. Coccolithophores have white calcium-rich
shells that reflect sunlight and brighten the water. The coccolithophore
shellscoccolithshave persisted in the Bering Sea since 1997, but
appear to be fading.