A regional pigment retrieval algorithm for the Nimbus-7 Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) has been tested for the Southern Ocean. The pigment concentrations estimated with this algorithm agree to within 5 percent with in situ values and are more than twice as high as those previously reported. The CZCS data also revealed an asymmetric distribution of enhanced pigments in the waters surrounding Antarctica; in contrast, most surface geophysical properties are symmetrically distributed. The asymmetry is coherent with circumpolar current patterns and the availability of silicic acid in surface waters. Intense blooms (``more than''1 milligram of pigment per cubic meter) that occur downcurrent from continental masses result from dissolved trace elements such as iron derived from shelf sediments and glacial melt.