Springtime brings increased sunlight, bursts of nutrients and changing water conditions to the Gulf of Alaska, setting the stage for explosive blooms of aquatic plants and phytoplankton—and then the many crabs, fish and whales that feed on them. The combination promotes massive blooms of phytoplankton—microscopic, plant-like organisms that turn sunlight into food and then become fodder for some of the richest fisheries on the planet.
The waters around Alaska are among the most biologically productive in the world. Ash from the many volcanoes and wind-blown glacial powder occasionally seed the seas with the nutrients necessary for phytoplankton growth. The rivers carry their share of rich sediments, and the stormy, turbulent waters offshore sweep up a fair bit from the seafloor.
Images courtesy of NASA.