primordial sea of algae

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    Baltic Sea, along the coast of Sweden, blooming with an outbreak of cyanobacteria / blue-green algae.

    Credited in some reports to fertilizer runoff and warmer weather, the algae blooms are quite dramatic this year. They turn the water a neon color of blue-green with yellow-white filaments. (Bloomberg News).

    Here is a Terra MODIS satellite surface algae map for the day I was flying between Frankfurt and Tallinn.

    As I photographed this colorful spectacle in the open seas, I was reminded of Craig Venter’s discovery, while shotgun sequencing the microbial populations of the sea: every 250 miles, the microbial genes are 85% different. The oceans are not homogenous masses. They consist of myriad uncharted regions of ecological diversity.

    Vanita, Etolane, neesflynn, and 19 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. JKaljundi 106 months ago | reply

      This seems more like it, the last puzzle picture of the blue-green algae was just unnaturally blue.

      For us divers this means almost non-existant visibility like each summer :-( Luckily the temperature down at 25-50 meters stays around 2-3 degrees, which does not allow the algae to grow so much.

    2. Ross Mayfield 106 months ago | reply

      More from Biology News via BoingBoing

    3. jurvetson 106 months ago | reply

      wow. What a cool image, thanks!

      Seeing the width of the Baltic Sea here helps convey the shear scale of these algae features. My photo is from about 35K feet (the clouds give some sense of scale. You could barely see a boat from this altitude). These patterns are not waves as far as I can tell. They are spaced much farther apart.

    4. glaciergirl 105 months ago | reply

      Amazing! We are all learning a lot from you :)

    5. Stefe 94 months ago | reply

      The cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) group would like the addition!

      Surfacing every year in the Baltic Sea is a cyanobacteria species known as Nodularia spumigena. It is often producing toxins. Try a google image search.

    6. sillydog 94 months ago | reply

      This is a very good example of where climate change and other human activities collide. It'd be a very good example for the climate change group

    7. javier.izquierdo 93 months ago | reply

      Sweet shot with an excellent caption. Please, consider adding this to the Microbes in the environment group.

    8. jurvetson 86 months ago | reply

      This just in, from Technology Review:

      The ocean hosts a stunningly--and surprisingly--diverse menagerie of microorganisms, according to a massive genetic study published today.

      "We have not understood much about our own planet and our own environment," Venter told Technology Review from his boat, the Sorcerer II, currently in the Sea of Cortez, in Mexico. "We've been missing as much as 99 percent of the life forms and biology out there."

      The first set of results, published this week in three papers in the journal PLoS Biology, revealed six million new proteins, doubling the number of known protein sequences. "Everywhere we sampled, we found new proteins," says Venter.

      In fact, every environment sampled showed high genetic diversity, both within and between samples. The findings are challenging the notion of species in microorganisms. "When you look at microbes, they don't appear to be individual species"

      "Microbial communities are almost like a superorganism, where each microbe is contributing to community as a whole," says Weinstock. "We really need to characterize the metagenome and analyze the genes and protein products as an aggregate."

      Venter and others eventually hope to find proteins that can be co-opted to create novel bacterial machines--proteins involved in hydrogen production or carbon fixation, for example, that could one day be engineered to boost the carbon-fixing capacity of the ocean or to create fuel-producing bacteria. "Genes are the design component of the future," says Venter.

    9. javier.izquierdo 86 months ago | reply

      Indeed, three great massive articles plus a video interview, an interactive poster and much more... (better plan on spending a considerable amount of time browsing and reading) at PLoS Biology's The J. Craig Venter Institute's Global Ocean Sampling Expedition.

      Happy reading.

    10. aeroculus 86 months ago | reply

      This collection of papers will, I believe, greatly serve the scientific and engineering communities alike. This is just the beginning in terms of formulating of a whole new way of understanding how Earth systems function from an evolutionary systems perspective. Beyond that, it allows us to think very differently about the complex relationships between organisms and the fluid layer including both ocean and atmosphere; not only how gene expression can be a function of climate, but also how gene expression can, in part, shape climate....a cornerstone for synthetic biology, with potential applications in energy generation and carbon cycle management. As one of the co-authors, I am most excited by the fact that this collection was published in an open-access forum (PLoS - Biology).

    11. fdecomite 86 months ago | reply

      looks great

    12. notemi123 75 months ago | reply

      Amazing how much we can learn browsing flickr. I'll make sure to come to your page once in a while when in need to learn something.
      Incredible picture, you rock!
      science experiments for kids

    13. bigmick65 69 months ago | reply

      Amzaing. Very nice photo :)

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