What color is your ocean? Most of us think of water as being blue, but in actuality, it reflects the color of the sky.

Clear, clean water is just that; it is clear and clean like drinking water. But even water that comes from your tap when placed in a deep tub or container, appears to have a green or blue green cast. The color of water is a subject of both scientific study and popular misconception. While relatively small quantities of water are observed by humans to be colorless, pure water has a slight blue tint that becomes a deeper blue as the thickness of the observed sample increases. The blue hue of water is an intrinsic property and is caused by selective absorption and scattering of white light. Impurities dissolved or suspended in water may give water different colored appearances.

The aqua green color of the tropical oceans is a favorite for most people. This is why swimming pool paint is this hue. It takes us away to favorite places.

This ocean palette is from Color Guild’s Colour Canvas 2012 color card, available at many Color Guild members’ stores. You can locate a store by logging onto ColorGuild.com.

Another factor that influences the color of the water is the color that lies on the bottom of a body of water. Sandy bottomed oceans make water appear to be lighter in the shallows. Other factors that affect the color of water are plant life, both microscopic and large. Chlorophyll pigments in the ocean and other bodies of water absorb light and the plants themselves scatter light. Together these can make some parts of the ocean to appear green to blue green.

Swamp water is slow to move and therefore it cannot transport plant life and soils to clean the water. Mangrove swamps produce tannin that make the water look like coffee.

I live on a lake that was once a stream. It was dammed downstream and flooded farmland making the lake bottom muck. Muck is mostly black and brown soil combined with clay to make a soft base. The lake appears to be brown in some areas and green in others.

You can see why color is like a chameleon. It changes and evolves and is still one of the most common attractions for humans. When asked where you would like to live or go to as a vacation destination, it usually involves water; a lake, ocean or swimming pool.

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