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No. 97: Jan-Feb 1995

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A Line In The Sea

What would create a deep green line 10 kilometers wide and stretching for hundreds of kilometers across the azure Pacific? Sailors have remarked on this line as their ships clove it. It is so large that astronauts on the Space Shuttle Atlantis have photographed it from hundreds of kilometers up. Sample analysis proves the green line to be a particularly dense concentration of phytoplankton, which thrives along the boundary where the North Equatorial Counter-current meets the colder South Equatorial Current. The microorganisms feed in the richer, cooler, sinking waters of the latter and then rise to the surface to create the green line.

(Yoder, James A., et al; "A Line in the Sea," Nature, 371:689, 1994. Also: Adler, T.; "Microorganisms Create a Line in the Ocean," Science News, 146: 263, 1994.)

Comment. Even more unusual lines may be created where oceanic currents meet. For example, in 1932 an immense congregation of sea snakes 10 feet wide and 60 miles long was observed in the Malacca Strait. (SF#4)

From Science Frontiers #97, JAN-FEB 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987