Why Is The Ocean Blue?


The color of water is not fixed to a single color. Turquoise, blue black, green, blue green are the various colors in which ocean water occurs. Often the color of the sky is stated as the reason for the ocean waters to be blue.

The sky being a reason for the ocean water to look blue requires that the water be exceptionally still. The scattering of the unabsorbed light from the water molecules and the impurities present in the water make observing the blue color of the water from land or even airplanes. If it would have only been the sky controlling the color of the ocean waters the shade of blue must have been lighter  and greener or other shades not possible. It is not a single factor that is responsible for the ocean waters looking blue but rather multiple factors work together to make the oceans look blue. Let us analyze these reasons one by one.

Why Is The Ocean Blue?

The Oceans reflect the color of the Sky: Water is a reflective and a shiny liquid. We can easily observe the reflection of the sky in the ocean waters. What ever color the sky shows us, the same can be observed in the ocean. On a bright sunny day, the ocean looks blue and at the time of sunset it looks orange. The sea acts as a mirror.

Absorption of blue wavelengths is the least: As we already know, the sunlight is made up of seven colors. The seven colors are the same as seen in the rainbow- violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow and orange.  The molecules making up sea water are blue in color and hence the absorption of blue wavelengths is the minimum. Blue wavelengths are transmitted the most making the water look blue.

Presence of Particles in Water: The wavelengths of color green are the next that are reflected the most after color blue.  This is the reason why oceans look green in color. Chlorophyll, in phytoplankton is an important light absorbing substance present in the oceans. Phytoplankton absorbs the red and blue wavelengths and reflect back the green color. Regions which are rich in  phytoplankton appear in shades ranging from blue green to green. This also means that lesser the phytoplankton, the bluer the oceans.  It is the presence of the red algae which makes it look red and excess of hydrogen sulphide that makes the black sea look black.

So hopefully you know by now as to why is the ocean blue.

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