This "blue marble" image of the globe merges data from multiple satellite missions (not all collected at the same time). The focus in this view is the Indian Ocean and its surrounding land masses. Notice the city lights on the night side of the globe, in Japan in the north and in eastern Australia in the south. Image courtesy of NASA.
The blue-colored swirl at the bottom right of this satellite image is an ocean eddy - a huge mass of water spinning in a whirlpool pattern. Eddies often spin off of major ocean current systems. The blue tint is a result of microscopic plant-like organisms called plankton, which grow as a result of the eddy stirring up nutrients from the deep to the surface. This image is from 26 December 2011 around 800 km (500 mi) south of South Africa. Image courtesy of NASA.
Much of the sediment clouding the water in this image of the Persian Gulf is from the Shatt al Arab River, which enters the Gulf in the north along the Iran-Iraq border. The river drains the combined waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers of Iraq, and the Karun River of Iran. Though other rivers empty into the Persian Gulf, most of its fresh water comes from the Shatt al Arab. On the right edge of the image is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, part of the northern Indian Ocean. The Persian Gulf is flanked to the west by wedge-shaped Kuwait and by Saudi Arabia with its vast tan-, pink-, and white-sand deserts; to the south by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman; and to the east by the dry mountains of Iran. The wetlands and rivers of Mesopotamia border the Gulf on the north. The red dots mark gas flares in oil fields of Iran and Iraq. Image courtesy of NASA.
A view over the Indian Ocean as seen from the space shuttle. The bottom portion of the photo shows the complete chain of the atolls that form the Maldive Islands. Off to the left are the southern portion of India, the Palk Strait, and the island of Sri Lanka. Image courtesy of NASA.
The artificial peninsula and islands that make up Palm Jumeirah in Dubai as seen from the International Space Station. This massive earthwork is reclaimed from Dubai's Persian Gulf coast. Advertised as "being visible from the Moon," the palm-shaped structure displays 17 huge fronds framed by an 11-km (7 mi) protective barrier. It is the first of three residential and commercial palm-shaped projects being undertaken in Dubai. Image courtesy of NASA.
This oblique, north-looking view shows the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Gulf of Oman (on the right) with the Persian Gulf (on the left). The Zagros Mountains and Qeshm Island of Iran are in the background and areas of Oman, Muscat, and the United Arab Emirates may be seen in the foreground. The oil tanker terminals of Abu Dhabi along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf can also be clearly seen along the northern United Arab Emirate coastline (lower left). Image courtesy of NASA.
Mac Murdo and Howe Islands are two of the 300 islands of the remote Kerguelen Archipelago, located in the southern Indian Ocean. The coastlines of many of these islands are occupied by giant kelp beds. The surface wave pattern that travels southeastward along the gray-blue ocean surface and through the kelp beds is visible due to sunglint, the mirror-like reflection of sunlight off the water. The sunglint also improves the identification of the kelp beds by creating a different water texture between the dark vegetation and the reflective ocean surface. Image courtesy of NASA.
A pilot whale breaks the ocean surface. Pilot whales are among the largest members of the dolphin family, exceeded in size only by the orca (killer whale). They feed primarily on squid, but will also hunt various fish. Highly social, they may remain with their birth pod throughout their lifetime. Image courtesy of NOAA / Adam Li.