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Southwest Pacific Phytoplankton

One thinks of the waters of the Coral Sea in the southwestern Pacific Ocean as being relatively clear. These waters are home to the corals of New Caledonia and Australia's Great Barrier Reef, for example, and tropical corals require clear water (among other things) to remain healthy. Nevertheless, phytoplankton are present in the water column, and these VIIRS data (from the NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP satellites) have been enhanced to show their presence as they are stirred around by the turbulent flow field in the region.

While one cannot identify which types of phytoplankton are shown in the different areas of this image, it is likely that some of the brighter features just inside and south of the Great Barrier Reef are blooms of a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium called Trichodesmium.

The data for this image were collected on August 19, 2019. Click on it to get a larger version.


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