July 19, 2010 - Phytoplankton Bloom Around Sable Island, Nova Scotia

Phytoplankton Bloom Around Sable Island

Sable Island sits in the Atlantic, nearly 100 miles from Nova Scotia. It's long and narrow, like a crescent moon and as of 2008 only had 5 year-round residents (not counting the wild ponies and seals)! During the summer, the island becomes home to researchers and photographers. Permission to visit the island has to be requested from the Canadian Coast Guard because of the protections on it.

Surrounding the island are waters glowing blue and green with phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that thrive in cold, nutrient-rich waters. They use photosynthesis, like their land-based plant relatives, to convert sunlight into energy. It is the chlorophyll in these organisms that gives them their greenish hue, and this hue, when combined with the deep blue of the water, creates sparkling jewel tones of blues and green. Bright blue color can also be produced by the blue reflection from the water and the reflection from an organism called a coccolithophore, whose chalky, calcium-based covering is bright white. When these organisms concentrate in enough numbers, great clouds of them can be seen from space.

This image was captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on July 3, 2010.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 07/03/2010
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC