Plankton Blooms, Capricorn Channel
high resolution 1000 pixel-wide image (850 KB JPEG)
Detailed imagery taken by astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) provides a new way of looking at many features on the Earth’s surface. This image captures a plankton bloom in the Capricorn Channel off the Queensland coast of Australia. The whispy pattern of the bloom suggests that the plankton are Trichodesmium—a photosynthetic cyanobacteria, also called “sea saw dust” that is common in the world’s oceans. Trichodesmium is frequently observed around Australia this time of year. In fact, Captain Cook’s ship logs written while he was sailing in Australian waters in the 1700s contain detailed descriptions of Trichodesmium blooms. Trichodesmium species are particularly important because of their role as primary producers: by sheer abundance, they fix a large amount of CO2 and N2.
Astronaut photograph ISS005-E-21572 was taken December 3, 2002, and is provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.
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Responsible NASA official: Yoram Kaufman