Jan. 14, 2012 -- It's summer in the Southern Hemisphere, when mineral-rich water rises up from the deep ocean to feed phytoplankton near the surface, forming vast blooms in brilliant swirls of blues and greens visible from space.
In this image, taken by ESA's Envisat satellite on Dec. 2 2011, a phytoplankton bloom forms an enormous figure-8 in the southern Atlantic about 370 miles (600 km) east of the Falkland Islands.
The Falklands -- a self-governing British Overseas Territory -- are an archipelago 290 miles (460 km) east off the southern tip of South America.
Phytoplankton are marine microorganisms that form the base of the ocean's food chain, and play an important role in the production of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Different types of phytoplankton show up as different colors in satellite images, depending on their chlorophyll pigmentation.