SUMMARY: Scientists have figured out how they can use special instruments on board two NASA satellites to detect the early stages of plankton "blooms". These blooms are caused by excessive runoff of industrial fertilizer which makes marine algae grow - sometimes so thickly that water looks black. Bacteria consume the algae and use up oxygen in the water. This can kill fish in large quantities. The MODIS instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites can detect the glow in plankton's chlorophyll from orbit, and pinpoint exactly where large blooms are forming.
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