Marine Science Faculty Publications

New Evidence for the West Florida Shelf Plume

Document Type


Publication Date



Algal blooms, Gulf of Mexico, Ocean color, Phytoplankton, Plumes, River discharge, Shelf dynamics, West Florida Shelf

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


The occurrence of an episodic chlorophyll plume detected on the West Florida Shelf between 1979 and 1986 was confirmed in March 1995 with shipboard data and in March 1998 with new ocean color data from the SeaWiFS sensor. New evidence is presented to support the hypothesis that diatom blooms off Apalachicola Bay are the precursor of the seasonal West Florida Shelf plume, and that the nutrient requirements for such blooms, especially silicate, can be supported by river discharge. The observations indicate that the impact of rivers is maximal over the middle shelf and decreases over the outer shelf. Salinity and discharge measurements support the concept that the Apalachicola River had a major impact at distances exceeding 100 km from the coast and that it plays an important role in the formation of offshore blooms. Preliminary analyses suggest that successional processes lead to cryptophytes dominating in the offshore blooms.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Continental Shelf Research, v. 22, issue 17, p. 2479-2496