Every summer, the population of algae in the North Atlantic reaches a peak, with the blue-green color of the phytoplankton causing the ocean to visibly change, even from space.
Plankton are incredibly tiny creatures who sometimes look like microscopic glass snowflakes, drifting through the ocean's water column. But they are actually among the most important life forms in the ocean. This short video introduces you to them, and gives you a look at their mysterious life cycles.
The Russian press agency ITAR-TASS is reporting something so surprising that I'm having a hard time believing it: Cosmonauts have found microorganisms on the exterior of the International Space Station. Russian scientists are shocked by this discovery and can't really explain how it is possible.
Plankton are tiny. With the exception of critters like jellyfish and cephalopods, which are technically "megaplankton," most plankton are smaller than 2 millimeters long. Phytoplankton, the plants of the plankton world, are microscopic.
Take a dip in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, visit a surprisingly musical milking parlor, get swept away by the surreal majesty of "underwater rivers," and go birding in the urban alleyways of Cambodia—all in this week's landscape reads.
The Black Sea looks crazy right now, as you can see in this photo taken by the MODIS instrument onboard NASA's Aqua satellite on July 15. These intense swirls are the work of a microorganism called coccolithophore, a "calcite-shedding phytoplankton [that] can color much of the Black Sea cyan."