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Eddies off Tasmania

Eddies off Tasmania

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.

Image courtesy SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE