plankton bloom in Caribbean...

Frank Muller-Karger (U. South FLorida / Marine Sci.) carib at
Mon Nov 11 14:16:52 EST 1996

David Booth is correct in stating that the Orinoco River plume reaches far 
and wide over the eastern Caribbean, especially during September-NOvember 
every year. We have clear evidence from satellite images from the Coastal 
Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) for the years 1979-1985 (the device stopped 
working in June 1986). 

The NOAA AVHRR is probably not useful to examine the Orinoco plume far off 
the coast of Venezuela, because it only has red and near-infrared 
channels. However, the Japanese launched the Ocean Color Temperature 
Sensor (OCTS) on their ADEOS satellite in August 1996. This device should 
have caught the phenomenon in the Caribbean. It would definitely be useful 
to tell whether the blooms described in the messages below are localized 
(or autochthonous), or whether they are associated with the dispersal of 
the Orinoco's water. 

We published the satellite data showing these patterns in several papers, 
in particular: 

Muller-Karger, F. E., C. R. McClain, T. R. Fisher, W. E. Esaias, and R. 
Varela. 1989. Pigment distribution in the Caribbean Sea: Observations from 
Space. Progress in Oceanography. 23. 23-69. 

Muller-Karger, F. E., C. R. McClain, and P. L. Richardson. 1988. The 
dispersal of the Amazon's water. Nature. 333. 56-59. 

Muller-Karger, F. E., and R. J. Varela. 1988. Variabilidad de la biomasa 
de fitoplancton en aguas superficiales del Mar Caribe: Una perspectiva 
desde el espacio con el CZCS. Memoria. Soc. Ciencias Naturales La Salle. 
Vol XLVIII. Supplement No. 3. 179-201. 

Muller-Karger, F. E.  1988. Pigment Variability in the Caribbean Sea: A 
study using the Coastal Zone Color Scanner. PhD. Dissertation. Horn Point 
Environmental Laboratories. University of Maryland. 218 pp. 

Muller-Karger, F. E., and R. Varela. 1990. Influjo del Rio Orinoco en el 
Mar Caribe: observaciones con el CZCS desde el espacio. Memoria. Sociedad 
de Ciencias Naturales La Salle. Caracas, Venezuela. Tomo IL, numero 
131-132;  Tomo L, numero 133-134. 361-390. 

Muller-Karger, F. E. 1993. River discharge variability in the wider 
Caribbean region including plume dispersal patterns observed with the 
Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS). In: The Impact of Climate Change on the 
Wider Caribbean Region. G. Maul (editor). UNEP. 

Muller-Karger, F. E., and R. Aparicio. 1994. Mesoscale Processes Affecting 
Phytoplankton Abundance in the Southern Caribbean Sea. Continental Shelf 
Research. Continental Shelf Research. (14:2/3). 199-221. 

__________________________________ FMK ________________________________________ 

Frank Muller-Karger			Remote Sensing/Biological Oceanogr. 
Department of Marine Science 
University of South Florida		Phone: (813) 553-3335 (Off.) 
140 7th Ave. South			       (813) 893-9186 (Lab.) 
St Petersburg, FL 33701			FAX:   (813) 893-9103 

                                        << carib at >> 

On Mon, 11 Nov 1996, David Booth wrote: 

> Large scale plankton blooms affected the US and British Virgin Islands 
> around this time of year in 1992 that were attributed to the plume of the 
> Orinoco River (yes that far away from Venezuela).  The folks at Virgin 
> Islands National Park (St. John, USVI) have more information on this 
> phenomenon.  I believe (if my memory is correct) that NOAA had some 
> satalitte images tarcking the extent of the plume during 1992.  I'll pass 
> your message on to friends at VINP who will be able to fill you in on details. 
> Gigi Beretta 
> Here is a E-Mail notice from my friend John Birk about a plankton bloom in 
> the Caribbean Sea. I think 
> this would be useful to someone. 
> >>I noticed a plankton bloom covering every dive site 
> > >in Antigua starting mon. oct. 28 , it has not yet 
> > >abated as of nov. 6. This is the worst I have seen 
> > >during my 25 years in Antigua. We have checked 
> > >with other dive shops in the Caribbean, and this 
> > >thing stretches at the very least from StVincent to 
> > >StMartin and as wide as Antigua Barbuda, StKitts 
> > >Nevis and to Barbados. 
> > >1...Is this of interest to anyone? 
> > >2...How far does this thing stretch? 
> > >3...Are we seeing something new related to global 
> > >    warming. 
> > >4...I would appreciate any info. 
> > > 
> > >John Birk 
> > >Dive Antigua 
> > >c/o Rex Halcyon Cove Resort 
> > >P/O Box 251 Antigua 
> > >West Indies 
> > > 
> > >Tel: 268-462-3483 
> > >Fax: 268-462-7787 
> > >email: birkj at 
> > > 
> > 
> Please also send any respones to me and John. John's email address is above. 
> Thanks 
> David J. Booth 
> Dept. of Environmental Biology and Horticulture 
> University of Technology, Sydney 
> Westbourne Street, Gore Hill  NSW 2065 
> 'ph 02/9514 4053   Fax: 02/9514 4003 

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