The Turquoise Monterey Bay

Marty CohenBeach + Ocean, California, Monterey Bay8 Comments

Recently, residents in and around Monterey, CA have noticed a beautiful turquoise glow in the Monterey Bay. It’s especially prominent when it’s very sunny. I went down to Fisherman’s Wharf yesterday planning to capture this color in the Bay. It was a partly cloudy day and the color wasn’t as intense as I had seen it a couple days before, and here is the result. Below the image is a discussion by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website on why the Bay is currently that color.

The Turquoise Monterey Bay

The Turquoise Monterey Bay

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has posted an explanation for this color:

Plankton blooms are nothing unusual in Monterey Bay. In fact, the abundance of plankton fuels the abundant food web that supports everything from anchovies and sardines to the humpback and blue whales that visit each year to feast on the bounty.

But the current bloom, which has turned the bay almost turquoise in recent days, is uncommon.

It’s caused by microscopic plant plankton called coccolithophores. Their relatives have been around since the Triassic Period, dating back 200 million to 250 million years.

Addendum: The reflection of light on the white calcium scales that are only three one-thousandths of a millimeter in diameter are allowing this beautiful color – more like the Caribbean where the light is reflected through clear water form the white corals and white sand.

8 Comments on “The Turquoise Monterey Bay”

  1. Stunning,Marty! Also appreciate your plankton explanation. Would not have known otherwise.Mazeltov on the coming exhibition. Should be exciting. Hugs, Nydia

    1. One of my neighbors is a docent at the Aquarium and she sees my web page images as well. She provide more explanation for the color:
      The reflection of light on the white calcium scales that are only three one-thousandths of a millimeter in diameter are allowing this beautiful color – more like the Caribbean where the light is reflected through clear water form the white corals and white sand.

      1. Wow, fascinating! You know, I lived on the Monterey Peninsula for 25 years, and that bay still can surprise me. I never saw anything like this. It sounds like it’s a structural color–that is, no pigment, just refraction and reflection. Thank you neighbor for me!

  2. Bravo plankton. Another lovely one. The math thing is OK – I was a math major through spherical trigonometry. My best, T.

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