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Uploaded on Tuesday 22 Nov 2011 by Peter Prokosch

Red Snow with Red Pharlaropes, Svalbard

Year: 2011
From collection: General collection
Taken by: Peter Prokosch
Red snow, also called snow algae, watermelon snow, or blood snow, is snow that is reddish or pink in color, with the slight scent of a fresh watermelon. Red snow is caused by the presence mainly of Chlamydomonas nivalis, a species of green algae containing a secondary red carotenoid pigment (astaxanthin) in addition to chlorophyll. Unlike most species of fresh-water algae, it is cryophilic (cold-loving) and thrives in freezing water. Here two similar red colored female Red Phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius) have placed themselves in front of the red snow cliff in the North of Svalbard. The red phalarope breeds in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. It is migratory, and, unusually for a wader, migrates mainly on oceanic routes and winters at sea on tropical oceans. The females are more colorful than the males. After they have laid their for eggs in a nest on a grassy tundra spot, they leave the entire breeding and chick-raising to their males.
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