Phaeocystis, suspended in a drop of seawater from Casco Bay off the coast of Maine.     Image © John Stetson and Southern Maine Community College photography class

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Unicellular algaePhaeocystis have a big impact on our planet through their emission of sulfurous gases that contribute to the global sulfur cycle and cloud formation. Potentially the greatest impact they have is their contribution as a carbon sink, where carbon is absorbed from our atmosphere.

Phaeocystics also appeared in the March 10, 2014 Earth Science Picture of the Day, “Sea Foam in Saint-Guenole, France,” where they were observed as a polysaccharide gel. When colonies of the algae bloom, they can create sea foam that covers beaches and even low-lying towns.

Summary Authors: John Stetson, Southern Maine Community College photography class, and Jackie Phillips

source EPOD