Who knew plankton could look so beautiful?
Oceanic phytoplankton blooms imaged from space by Envisat. Plankton blooms occur in regions of the ocean that have optimal temperature, sunlight, and nutrient supply for marine algae to grow exponentially. Most blooms are composed of coccolithophores, single celled organisms which grow disk-like exoskeletons of calcium carbonate. Trillions of these disks color the water white, showing the phytoplankton density and beautiful fluid dynamics of ocean currents.
The next time you feel a certain malaise that often accompanies being environmentally aware these days, shut off the device, step outside, find the biggest blue or green expanse around, and jump, hike, or climb in.
We wish this could happen to us.
Happy Hump Day!
We’d like to go there.
Children swim and play in oceanside pool, February 1955.
Photograph by Franc & Jean Shore, National Geographic
Exploring the Crystal Desert: Antarctica Through a Photographer’s Lens
Christopher Michel doesn’t like to sit still. Despite a career that includes gigs as a pilot, tech investor, entrepreneur, journalist, and government science advisor, Michel has managed to steady his hands long enough to also hone his skills as a photographer. His pursuit of the perfect image has taken him from Mount Everest to Papua New Guinea to the Korean Demilitarized Zone — and even, in 2010, to the edge of space (inside a U-2 spy plane). His most recent journey, however, is to a place he deems most magnificent of all: the frigid waters of Antarctica’s so-called “Crystal Desert.” On board a giant ship chartered by Harvard (his alma mater), Michel photographed icebergs as they froze, melted, and refroze. We managed to slow Michel down long enough to ask him a few questions about his polar voyage.
What kind of photography equipment do you recommend for extreme environments like Antarctica?
Antarctica and camera equipment aren’t friendly. From the inevitable Zodiac sea spray of the Southern Ocean to the battery-draining deep freeze, a smart photographer needs to come prepared with backup equipment, extra power, and protective everything.
Whether you purchased a UBB shirt or attended a cleanup, you’ve walked away with your very own UBB keepsake-a small, blue marble. They aren’t handed out in hopes of one day you’ll have enough to start your own marble league, but these little glass beads hold a much bigger significance.
When NASA took the first picture of Earth from space, it was nicknamed the blue marble. We’ll give you 71 guesses why.
As easy as it is to take care of our little blue marble, we encourage our volunteers, customers, friends, retailers, and anyone we meet to take equal care of our big blue marble. Some volunteers may lose the marble on the ride home, others may keep it next to their computers, and we hope others pass on the message of how simple it is to care for our marble.
The Blue Marble Project was created by our ocean advisory board member and marine biologist, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. Millions of blue marbles have been shared worldwide as homage to our blue planet. The Blue Marbles Project has set out to pass out a marble through the hands of every inhabitant on Earth.
This project has three simple rules:
1. The marble must be blue.
2. Give it to someone as a token of gratitude.
3. Share your story with the world.
Who will you give your blue marble to?
What would it be like to swim down through the estimated 100 million tons of trash swirling around in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Mandy Barker’s photographs bring viewers probably as close as they’d ever want to come to finding out.
Merry Fishmas! The Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus)is a type of polychaete, a group of segmented worms mostly found in the ocean. It lives on tropical coral reefs and resembles a fluffy fir tree adorned with colored ornaments. Each worm has two tree-like appendages that are used to breathe and to catch meals of plankton floating by.
See more holiday themed ocean animals in our slideshow!
Photo: Nick Hobgood