Fall 2023 Best of Web – Sarah Hartin

Fall 2023 Best of Web – Sarah Hartin

This is an image of a phytoplankton bloom that occurred in April 2023 off the east coast of the United States. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in both fresh and saltwater, and can be bacteria, protists, or single-cell plants. In this area, blooms occur in the spring due to the increase in sunlight and the high availability of nutrients brought to the ocean surface by the winter turbulence. Additional color in this image comes from sediment and colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), likely sourced from runoff in the Delaware River watershed. This runoff also contains nutrients from farms, wastewater treatment plants, and other sources that can contribute to the growth of phytoplankton. I find it interesting how large amounts of such tiny organisms can make ocean current and eddies more visible, especially with such vibrant colors. 

Image credit: L. Dauphin; via NASA Earth Observatory.



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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Maddie O'Brien
    Sep 11, 2023 14:50

    Second Prize: I think this is a very cool way to capture a large population of something very very small that we rarely see. Additionally I think its super cool how this image captures the movement and business of life which isn’t always an easy thing to see.

  • Stella Meillon
    Sep 11, 2023 13:52

    First Prize:
    It’s beautiful how tiny organisms can mobilize to create patterns and shapes that you can only see from far away (relative to their size). It’s interesting how they determine the pattern/shape they will adopt and they seem to go with the flow, literally, of the ocean.

  • Rachel Marbaker
    Sep 10, 2023 19:00

    Second Prize: I love the idea of phytoplankton as seeded boundary. It makes me think about how fluid dynamics can be used to model traffic and makes me wonder how humans’ migrations and movement (or that of other animals, like birds or whales) reflect global-scale flows


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