Scientists are discovering why blooms of harmful algae are often seen along the U.S. Northwest Coast. This image was taken on September 29, 2004 and shows a large bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia, a toxic algae, off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the channel of water that separates Vancouver Island in the north from Washington State in the south. Fed by cold ocean waters that rise from the ocean floor near the coast, phytoplankton blooms are frequent in this region, and some are toxic.
Image Courtesy of the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.