Why The Black Sea Has Turned Turquoise

By Carmarlena Murdaca

Why The Black Sea Has Turned Turquoise

NASA’s Aqua satellite has captured incredible images of the Black Sea from space, with turquoise swirls dominating the usually dark waters thanks to an ongoing phytoplankton bloom.

Phytoplankton are tiny organisms that feed on sunlight and dissolved nutrients. The image shows the rivers Danube and Dnieper bringing these nutrients out to the Black Sea, where the phytoplankton feed on them, NASA officials said in a statement. In turn, these small organisms are eaten by larger animals such as fish and shellfish.

In the Black Sea in particular, a type of phytoplankton community called coccolithophores are visible from afar because of the white calcium carbonate plates that shield their bodies, the statement said. The white is easily visible from space and appears like milk in the water. Diatoms, on the other hand — another type of phytoplankton found in the Black Sea — can make the water look somewhat darker.

“Phytoplankton are floating, microscopic organisms that make their own food from sunlights and dissolved nutrients.

“Here, ample water flow from rivers like the Danube and Dnieper carries nutrients to the Black Sea. One type of phytoplankton commonly found in the Black Sea are coccolithophores – microscopic plankton that are plated with white calcium carbonate.

“When aggregated in large numbers, these reflective plates are easily visible from space as bright, milky water.” And, that bright, milky colouring is what resulted in this magnificent photo, which is a series of progressive shots over the region from a satellite during multiple orbits.

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