Sydney - Snow blown into the Antarctic Ocean from the frozen continent has triggered an algal bloom so large and so vividly green it can be seen from space, media reports said on Monday.
The bloom, captured by Australian scientists monitoring a Nasa satellite 650 kilometres above the earth, is about 100 kilometres north-to-south and 200 kilometres wide.
The snow contains minute quantities or iron that stimulates the growth of nutrients.
University of Tasmania glaciologist Mark Curran said the monster bloom had sparked a food chain starting with krill and plankton and going all the way up to seals and whales.
The bloom is thought to be phaeocystis algae, a single-cell photosynthetic algae sometimes called the “foam algae” that is present in all the world's oceans.
Curran told Australia's AAP news agency that the bloom had lasted 20 days so far and would eventually dissipate.
“They die off, things like bacteria comes through there and feeds on the material and then the material eventually will sink to the bottom of the ocean - anything that hasn't been consumed by predators higher up the food chain,” he said.
Researchers from the Australian Antarctic Division aboard the Aurora Australia research vessel hope to reach the bloom before it disappears.
The ship left the Tasmanian port of Hobart for Australia's Mawson Station in Antarctica and will pass through the bloom en route. - Sapa-dpa