Despite all of its glamor and grace, the Jersey Shore is not necessarily known for its tropical, crystalline waters. In fact, its water can’t be anything further from the Caribbean, crystal turquoise colors common down south. The ocean off of the Garden State’s coast is almost always colored a murky, opaque green, generally not the most appetizingly swim prone color. Until now.
Swimmers off of parts of the Atlantic Ocean and Cape May in New Jersey have enjoyed a rare privilege the past couple of weeks: turquoise-colored tropical-style seas evoking those of the Caribbean that allow people to see all the way to the bottom, even out past the breakers.
Cool currents causing Caribbean-colored coastline
Previously this month, an upwelling of cool ocean water has resulted in a bloom of phytoplankton off of the South Jersey coast, changing the waters from Long Beach Island all the way to to Cape May to a lovely aquamarine shade.
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A large drought that had affected the area, and throughout many parts of the Northeast, has added to the water’s clarion quality.
The normally murky grey shade of the ocean surface has been infused with large amounts of chlorophyll from the increased levels of phytoplankton, the Press of Atlantic City reports. Combined with a deficiency of river water, the phytoplankton is reflecting turquoise wavelengths under the summer sun.
Elizabeth Lacey, assistant professor of marine science at Stockton University in Galloway says that the phytoplankton blossom when cool, nutrient-rich water rises to the surface. Most of the plants are not bigger that the very tip of a sharpened pencil. The bloom is harmless to people, Lacey continued.
When wind blows surface water out to sea, the deeper, cooler temperature water rises up from the bottom of the sea, which causes the bloom in phytoplankton.
NASA satellites have been able to capture the stunning color from space from its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on July 6th.
Beachgoers blessed with beautiful bank
Atlantic City Cruises owner Jeff George said that the arrival of tropical-hued water has been a pleasant surprise to beachgoers who didn’t expect to find a beautiful, Caribbean beach atmosphere at the Jersey Shore. Additionally, says George, the clear water has allowed beachgoers to spot dolphins much easier than before.
“Ive been on the water my whole life, and I can’t remember water this clear and this green for this amount of time,” George said. “People are very impressed, and in makes a huge difference in spotting dolphins.”
Oscar Schofield, a Rutgers University marine scientist, said that “these upwellings occur every summer, and fuel large phytoplankton blooms. Studies have suggested these summer upwelling events occur several times each summer and lead to large blooms that can discolor the water.”
Despite the tropical-colored sea, the regular chilly waters of the Jersey Shore still remain, explains meteorologist Jim Eberwine. The waters have remained in the mid-60s through last week, due to the rising cooler water.
According to NASA, the phytoplankton can sometimes reduce a body of water’s oxygen content as well as produce increased levels of toxins that can affect both human and plant life, though in this case, it is harmless, and it is providing an additional source of nutrients to aquatic animals.
The beautiful, turquoise water might not last long, however, as wind has the tendency to move phytoplankton through water and into different areas. So those who plan on getting to the beach to witness this phenomenon had better hurry.