Compared to the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, you might feel a little let down by our greenish-grey colored ocean, but you shouldn't, and here's why!

There are several good reasons why our ocean looks the way it does.

You see, colder water like ours is nutrient-rich. It supports incredible amounts of tiny plants and animals like types of Plankton (which is a GOOD thing), whereas warmer southern waters are virtual deserts when it comes to the number of organisms it holds.

This is the reason our ocean appears cloudy or murky. And all of those nutrients in our ocean water provides food energy for a vast number of marine animals.

So why is it that the water looks blue or green? When sunlight hits the ocean, water absorbs the red, orange, yellow, and green wavelengths of light so that we see just the remaining wavelengths of blue and violet. Those microorganisms (the types of Plankton, etc.) in the water also absorb light so when a high concentration is present, the water takes on a green hue.

The sea floor also has a lot to do with the way ocean water appears. If you've ever been out to sea, you know that the further out you go, the darker blue the water gets as it gets deeper. That is because less and less light is reflecting off the sea floor.

But as water gets shallower, light can get all the way to the bottom. The appearance and makeup of the sea floor then becomes a factor in determining the color and clarity of the water. For example, coarse Bermuda sand, which is mostly bits of light colored coral, reflects light differently than the dark, fine particles of silt and sand found in our area.

In our area, it is much easier for water and waves to stir up fine sand and once those lightweight particles are afloat, they stay suspended for much longer than the heavier, coarser particles in Bermuda. That's why the silt and sand at the Jersey shore decreases water clarity and adds to a murky appearance.

But this is all good, and it's all healthy. So, all in all, a cloudy green ocean is a healthy ocean, and a life-giving one at that!

If you would like to learn more about our great ocean and what it holds, visit The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium!