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The hair-like substance in this image is actually a cyanobacteria of the genus Trichodesmium. There are five distinct species of Trichodesmium, two of which can be identified by how they look. They are commonly called “puffs” and “tufts”. Puffs (T. thiebautii) resemble little furry puff balls. There are three distinct puffs in this image. Tufts (T.erythraeum) look like bundles of uncooked spaghetti. Also in the picture are copepods (blue and orange oval shapes).
Nutrient poor (oligotrophic) tropical and subtropical ocean waters.
Trichodesmium are important inhabitants of the low nutrient waters of the open ocean because they can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen into a form that is usable for other organisms.