Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

Click on the following links to see images from that continent. All images courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response System, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


South Africa

Since late March 2003, a phytoplankton bloom has been occurring off the western coast of South Africa. Reports from watersampling at the site indicate that it is a rather unusual red tide containing a mixture of organisms called dinoflagellates and a species of coccolithophore called Syrachosphaera pulchra, which is an unusually large species of coccolithophore. A coccolithophore is an organism that has a chalky, calcium-based outer covering that reflects sunlight very strongly back from the ocean surface. Ocean waters that contain the organism appear very bright blue or green.


The southwest African coastline centered on Namibia is swirling with blues and greens. These may be due to plumes of hydrogen sulfide gas welling up from the bottom of the ocean.

Off the coast of Namibia in southwest Africa, a phytoplankton bloom colors the waters of the Atlantic Ocean light blue and green.


Persian Gulf

The Persian Gulf, officially known as The Gulf, features clouds of blue and green in its dark waters. These clouds likely indicate a mixture of sediment and microscopic marine plant life. Two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris flow into the Gulf and add tan streaks to the water.



Wave clouds over Ireland.

North America


The waters in this image are draped in the jewel-like colors of the Bahamas: turquoise, bright blue, and emerald green, and in the deeper blue-black of the Gulf of Mexico (left) and the Atlantic Ocean (right). The brighter colors surrounding the Bahamas are caused by the relatively shallow waters over the Little and Great Bahama Banks, which are shelves of land that were submerged as the continental glaciers of the last ice age melted. The jewel-like waters around Cuba and Florida’s tip could be a consequence of shallow waters, but could also be colored by a larger presence of microscopic marine organisms, such as algae and phytoplankton, which lend a darker-green tinge to the water.


Brightly-colored waters in the Gulf of Mexico indicate the presence of sediment, detritus, and blooms of marine plants called phytoplankton.



Northwestern coast of Australia.

South America


Coloration within the waters of the Balta Blanca and the Atlantic Ocean. The tannish-green coloration in the Balta Blanca is due to sediments in the water deposited by river runoff, while farther out the blue and green colors likely signal the presence of phytoplankton.

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