Residents and visitors of Ayrshire and Arran have enjoyed three weeks of Mediterranean-style sea views after an unusual algae bloom turned the Firth of Clyde aquamarine.

The sea was so bright, it even got picked up from space. 

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Credit: NEODAASCredit: NEODAAS

The photograph taken on June 21, shows Ayrshire and Arran, topped with a cloud shaped like a miniature Scotland, and the bright teal colour of the Firth of Clyde.

The colour lasted over three weeks, giving the illusion that the bay around Arran and Ayrshire was similar to a tropical paradise. 

Satellite oceanographer Peter Miller had been monitoring the situation in the Clyde from space and he told the Herald how he did that: "The European Space Agency have a series of earth-observing satellites that monitor the earth and keep tabs on climate change.

"The Sentinel Two satellite is used to capture high-quality images of land and oceans, and the ocean picked up the bright colour around the Clyde. It was taken at around 800km above the earth."

Although we might be used to seeing images of hyper-blue and teal seas in images from other parts of the world, the teal in the Clyde was more an illusion of more crystal clear waters of more tropical destinations. 

Peter continued: "It was quite unusual, speaking with senior colleagues in Scotland, the last time there were reports of the sea turning this colour was in the early 1980s."

Experts reckon the reason for the colour was a phenomenon called a coccolithophore bloom.

That's when conditions allow a particular type of microscopical algae to grow and lives on the top layer of the sea. 

Naked to the human eye, the round cells can be viewed under a microscope and are surrounded by intrinsic tiny disc-shaped plates.

It is the shedding of these white calcium carbonate plates, called coccoliths, which can turn into chalk - that then transforms the sea into teal colour we saw last week.

The sun reflects off the chalk particles and which creates brightness seen in the satellite image, and rather than the algae themselves colouring the water, it is their dead cells floating to the surface in their billions as a chalky layer.

"It is rare to get these algae here, it would usually be seen off the course of Ireland in the Atlantic or further up in the North Sea," said Peter, "also, it is a good illusion of tropical water, but in those areas, very little grows, the water is clear with no murky sediments."

And will we expect this to happen every year, is the algae here to stay? Or will we have to wait 30 years to see it again? 

Peter said: "It is hard to know, we will have to wait and see if it happens again at this time next year, but I can reassure your readers that the algae it is harmless for humans and pets."