Earth Day: When is Green NOT Good?

Algal Art What is the mysterious 3D whorl in this latest addition to Art or Science ? Look closer and there seems to be a scratch in top center..and is that a white speck of dust marring your monitor?

You may be surprised to learn that these delicate green swirls are an aerial view of a giant algal bloom floating in the Baltic Sea, captured by the orbiting satellite Sentinel-2A. The white speck heading into the “eye of the storm” is a ship. You can see the ship’s “wake”, caused by the propeller’s cutting through the floating algae as a straight dark line.

Annie, Fannie and Mike: They seem friendly enough, but these are actually nicknames for three types of cyanobacteria that account for the vast majority of algal blooms world-wide: Anabaena, Aphanizomenon, and Microcystis. Caused by eutrophication of water from fertilizer dumping, what could be bad about these temporary blooms of harmless sounding photosynthesizing microorganisms?  “Annie” and “Fannie” produce toxins that attack your nervous system. “Mike” makes microcystin, one of the most potent toxins on the planet. Even inhaling a few droplets of contaminated water can make you nauseous and dizzy, and larger doses kill. They grow best in warm water with lots of nutrients. Thanks to warming climate and fertilizer run offs, algal blooms are on the rise, starting as early as March and April.

As algal blooms grow, others die. Bacteria divide quickly, using up the oxygen supply. Fish and aquatic life are starved of oxygen. This leads to dead zones. Scientists are combating algal blooms through innovative strategies. One way is artificial destratification by mixing up upper, warm layers with deep, cooler water using propellers. This effectively starves algae and cyanobacteria of nutrients and light. Another way is biomanipulation by introducing aquatic plants that compete with algae or predatory fish that eat other plankton eating fish. Sadly, support for this research is at an all time low. That’s why we #MarchForScience today. Show your support for #EarthDay and support science!



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120 Responses to Earth Day: When is Green NOT Good?

  1. Jodi Kaplan says:

    (nice to “see” you again).

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    Nice to be back 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Holy ship! That is terrifying looking!! Not sure if I should thank you Rajini Rao or blame you for giving me the eebie-jeebies.

  4. Very fascinating. I love, algae. Thank you..

  5. I checked to see the last post of yours I remember to have seen. It was from July 2015! Some continuity there between the previous post on Rio olympic pool to this algal storm!

  6. Azlin Bloor says:

    A brilliant read, as always, Prof! It’s good to see one of posts again! Rajini Rao

  7. Jay Conley says:

    March in solidarity if for no other reason; because Rajini Rao says its a good thing, which means its more than likely a good thing. Leave your very just petitions of equality for one day and help preserve the institutions of science for the very sake of science.

  8. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful article.. Being a student of Plant science, a topic on such is always fascinating.. ☺☺☺☺

  9. Thanks for the information Rajini Rao​ 🙂

  10. So very glad to see this post and YOU again! Hope you are well. Did you march for Science?

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    Hi cobalt please and everyone else! I’m very well and so glad to see you all again. I hope to get back to posting on G+ (been busy juggling too many things, that’s all). Yes, I did march for science in Chicago where I was attending a science conference. It was a gorgeous day with ~40K turnout. Chris Robinson was with me! He has some great photos, I’ll ask if I can share them here.

  12. Rajini Rao awesomeness!!!

  13. Hi Rajini Rao. Feel free to share away.

  14. Sunil Bajpai says:

    Happy to see you back! Great post, as always!! 🙂

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Sunil Bajpai 🙏 Thanks!!

  16. Rajini Rao welcome back ❤️ hope to see more of your posts!

  17. Rajini Rao says:

    Hi Susana M., so nice to see you again! Hope to get back to posting 🙂

  18. Welcome back Rajini Rao​!😃

  19. TAIJ KRISHEN says:

    Nice to see again Rajni Rao jee it is my pleasure where was you dear friend

  20. ajit kumar says:

    Very nice Rajini rao

  21. TAIJ KRISHEN says:

    Rajni Rao you have not answered my question where was you

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  23. Kevin Rivera says:

    it looks like a brain cut from the middle, you can see the hippocampus, the frontal lobes and the back brain. If a drawing is made just following the strong lines then the brain will reveal itself. Nature is a repetition of patrons and thats a strong one that shows is few circumstances.

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  26. Hyunghwa Ha says:

    Earth Art what is the mysterious 3D whorl in this latest addition to Art or science? Look closer and there seems to be a scratch in top center… and is that a white speck of dust marring your monitor?

  27. love Wow wonderful on your birthday

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  29. Hi,your post very nice

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  36. I love the comments, here

  37. So Ranjini . no such thing as global warming. Trumppy says. And no meed to adhere to co2

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