Subsurface algal blooms of the northwestern Arabian Sea

Sergey A. Piontkovski, Bastien Y. Queste, Khalid A. Al-Hashmi, Aisha Al-Shaaibi, Yulia V. Bryantseva, Elena A. Popova

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In situ plankton sampling, combined with remotely sensed and ocean Seaglider observations, provided insight into the termination of the winter monsoon bloom and subsequent evolution into a subsurface fluorescence maximum in the northwestern Arabian Sea. This subsurface maximum gradually descended, presenting increased fluorescence between 25 and 55 m depth during the spring inter-monsoon season. Species diversity decreased by half within the deep fluorescence maximum relative to the bloom. The dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans dominated by biomass in all samples collected from the depth of the subsurface fluorescence maximum. We show that the subsurface algal bloom persists throughout inter-monsoon seasons, linking algal blooms initiated during the southwest and northeast monsoons. In situ samples showed a net decrease in Noctiluca cell size, illustrating a shift towards a deep chlorophyll maximum adapted community, but did not exhibit any increases in chlorophyll-containing endosymbionts. We propose that the plankton biomass and estimates of the northwestern Arabian Sea productivity are much greater than estimated previously through remote sensing observations, due to the persistence, intensity and vertical extent of the deep chlorophyll maximum which—using remote means—can only be estimated, but not measured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2017


  • Algal blooms
  • Chlorophyll a
  • Zooplankton

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