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Bioluminescent microorganisms in our oceans – nature’s beautiful palette of sea sparkles

Bioluminescence at night

Noctiluca_scintillans

It’s a hauntingly beautiful phenomenon created by an unusually high concentration of Noctiluca scintillans (or Sea Sparkles), a single-celled bioluminescent algae of the dinoflagellate species that turns the water a brilliant, glowing, ethereal blue. Floating in swarms of millions and feeding on plankton and bacteria, it is believed that the Sea Sparkles generate their glow through their cell membranes when they are jostled.

Although the phenomena is rare in most places, it can occur in oceans all around the world. Marine biologist and bioluminescence expert Woodland Hastings of Harvard University explained:

“I’ve been across the Atlantic and Pacific, and I’ve never seen a spot that wasn’t bioluminescent or a night that bioluminescence couldn’t be seen.”

Check out the beautiful luminescent waterfronts below the jump.