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Nutrients consist of dissolved inorganic substances which are essential for the growth and development of all photosynthetic organisms. These substances generally exist in seawater in concentrations of only parts per million. The nutrients which are in most demand by marine plants (and most likely to be scarce enough to limit plant growth) are ions of nitrogen (available primarily in the form of dissolved ammonium, NH4+, or nitrate NO3- ) and phosphorus (as phosphate, PO43- ). These nutrients are naturally occurring, but additional nutrients can come from point source and non point source pollution. When excess nutrients are present in a system persistent nuisance algae blooms can occur.
Parker, H. S., Exploring the Oceans: An Introduction for the Traveler and Amateur Naturalist, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1985.