Skip all navigation and jump to content Jump to site navigation
NASA Logo - Goddard Space Flight Center

+ NASA Homepage

Goddard Space Flight Center
About MODIS News Data Tools /images2 Science Team Science Team Science Team

   + Home

April 28, 2015

April 27, 2015

April 26, 2015

April 25, 2015

April 24, 2015

April 23, 2015

April 22, 2015



December 15, 2013 - Phytoplankton Bloom off Argentina
Phytoplankton Bloom off Argentina Image used for Spacing Purposes
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 11/26/2013
Resolutions: 1km (206.4 KB)

Bands Used: 1,4,3
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz
MODIS Land Rapid Response Team,

Offshore from Argentina, spring is in bloom. Massive patches of floating phytoplankton colored the ocean in November 2013. These microscopic, plant-like organisms are the primary producers of the ocean, harnessing sunlight to nourish themselves and to become food for everything from zooplankton to fish to whales.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on November 26, 2013. The chalky blue swirls in the South Atlantic Ocean, as well as fainter streaks of yellow and green, are evidence of abundant growth of phytoplankton across hundreds of kilometers of the sea. These organisms contain pigments (such as chlorophyll) or minerals (calcium carbonate) that appear blue, green, white or other colors depending on the species.

The phytoplankton in this image are likely a blend of diatoms, dinoflagellates and coccolithophores. Near the coast, the tan and green discoloration of the water could be phytoplankton or it might be sediment runoff from rivers.

These phytoplankton help fuel one of the world’s best fishing grounds, particularly shortfin squid, hake, anchovies, whiting and sardines. The area known as the Patagonian “shelf-break front” is a crossroads of currents – Circumpolar, Brazil and Malvinas – where nutrients re carried in from southern waters or churned up from the edge of the continental shelf. Fish and squid congregate at the shelf-break especially in the spring and fall, because it is such a productive place for the growth of phytoplankton.

FirstGov logo Privacy Policy and Important Notices NASA logo

Curator: Brandon Maccherone
NASA Official: Shannell Frazier

NASA Home Page Goddard Space Flight Center Home Page