NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Shuttle photograph of a phytoplankton, or algal, bloom (a colouring of water arising from a high concentration of plankton) in the north-west Coral Sea off the Queensland coast, Australia. Plankton drift more or less passively with the water flow, hence orbital photographs of plankton colonies can provide information on the prevailing currents. Here, the leading edge of a probable concentration of plankton is seen as a light irregular line and sheen in the sea at top right. Reports from ships in this area refer to floating mats of algae up to 2 metres thick. The discolouration of the water in and around the bay is due to the sediment load present in the rivers feeding into it.
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