50. Sea Sparkles – bioluminescent algae


Picture this…..

bioluminescent algae sea sparkle…a tropical beach…..
…where the sound of the surf mixes with the screaming of monkeys and undefined exotic birds. Where hermit crabs climb palm trees as if it’s their daily routine. Where 50 shades of jungle green blend flawlessly with all the shades of sea blue a human mind can come up with. Not that I noticed much of it, as the sun sets before dessert in countries like these. And the concept street lighting probably still hasn’t been invented over there. So it was dark, in a way we only know from our darkest dreams.
There I was. Without a goal or destination, just following my feet, because the nice warm sand invited me to do so. The only available  light came from above, in the shapes of trillions of glittering particles, scattered through the sky like glitter powder. In this country there is no cutting down on stars, like in my country. Neither  on endless flipping waves. Thick crests kept coming and going tirelessly. And I went on walking just as effortlessly into the infinity of the night, without a goal, but a view on  a vague illusion of sea foam ….

 

The sky upside down

… until suddenly something SO striking, strange and unknown happened, that I wondered whether I was dreaming or not…..
The sky seemed to have whirled down, to shine her trillions of tiny LED’s upwards from the bottom through the waves. The almost invisible sea changed slowly but surely into a huge blue light-box!
The whole surf lit up in bright blue, as if the sea had turned into a huge Philips ambient light. What was this? Who let all the Tinkerbell’s out?!

Like a lost captain, seduced by the beautiful singing of sirens – the daughters of sea gods- I was attracted to the water by this irresistibly blue elf-lights. My fate might have been the same, hadn’t the spell been broken by a glance below my feet. I had been followed by a trail of light! Each footstep left behind a print of blue flashing lights, which made me feel like some kind of Moon-walking Michael Jackson. I was stuck in this enchanting hold of fascination among the glittering trail behind me and the endless blue energy in front of me; an evening never to forget.  I was the silent witness of  a light show that had made even Vangelis eat his heart out.
A few weeks later, I landed safely on my own magic-free ground and – curious as ever- I had to find out: What had it been? And How…?!
At that point in time, WiFi and 3G were still science fiction, so I was thrilled when Google finally revealed the redeeming words: The blue miracle had a name: Bioluminescent algae. Although the popular term sea sparkle does more justice to this fascinating phenomenon.

 

Questions

And of course, every answer raised a new question:

  • Why do they produce light?
  • Are they poisonous?
  • How do they charge?
  • Do they use their lights to communicate with each other?
  • Or is it just for the beauty of it?
  • Are they animals…?
  • …..or plants?
  • Where do they stay when they’re not here?
  • Or are they always here, but do they just turn off the light…?
  • When and where they are born?
  • How long do they live?
  • Do they come in other colors as well…?

But my main question remained: Will I ever experience this magic again? And if so…how, where and when…?

Picture this…..

…a little less exotic scene…
In between the Royal Rescue and beach club Sea-sight, in a nocturnal sea, illuminated by windmills and boats, I finally found my blue wonder again. And believe me, if you ever witnessed such an impressive Glow-In-the-dark-surf, the environment is of little importance. The total blue-OD lets you spontaneously forget where you are.
Finally sparkles. Finally being enchanted again. Finally…the magic has returned.

bioluminescent algae sea sparkle pyrocystis_fusiformis bioluminescent algae sea sparkle bioluminescent_sea  bioluminescent algae sea sparkle bioluminescent algae sea sparkle bioluminescent algae sea sparkle

 

 


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