What we may call a huge underwater vortex, scientists call an eddy -- and a satellite spotted a huge one off the coast of Africa just before the new year.
New Scientist reports that NASA's Terra satellite caught the 90-mile-wide, blue, swirling mass in late December and NASA released the photos last week. But there is and was no need to worry, even though its size rivals that of many a tropical storm. New Scientist states that unlike above water cyclones, eddies actually create a nutritious, underwater haven:
[...] these ocean whirlwinds draw nutrients up from the deep, nourishing blooms of microscopic marine life in the otherwise barren open ocean.
In fact, it's the life -- mostly plankton -- inside this eddy that is giving it this bright blue color.
The Daily Mail reports that the eddy is moving in a counter-clockwise direction and most likely stemmed from the Agulhas Current, which flows near the southeastern African coast and around South Africa. Live Science says that eddies from the Agulhas Current are often the largest in the world.
This post has been updated to correct a typo.