This true-color satellite image shows a large phytoplankton bloom,
several hundred square kilometers in size, in the Indian Ocean off the
west coast of Tasmania. In this scene, the rich concentration of
microscopic marine plants gives the water a lighter, more turquoise
appearance which helps to highlight the current patterns there. Notice
the eddies, or vortices in the water, that can be seen in several
places. It is possible that these eddies were formed by converging
ocean currents flowing around Tasmania, or by fresh river runoff from
the island, or both.
Often, eddies in the sea serve as a means for stirring the water, thus
providing nutrients that help support phytoplankton blooms, which in
turn provide nutrition for other organisms. Effectively, these eddies
help feed the sea (click to read an article on this topic).
This image was acquired November 7, 2000, by the Sea-viewing Wide
Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) flying aboard the Orbview-2 satellite.
Tasmania is located off Australia's southeastern coast.