Glowing Plankton

A phenomenon which is commonly seen but not known is the process known as bio-luminescence(glowing plankton), which is a type of light energy produced by a chemical reaction. It’s the production and emission of light and comes from the Greek word ‘bios’ meaning life, and ‘lumen’ meaning light.

Bio-luminescence occurs throughout marine fungi, vertebrates, and invertebrates such as the popular bug, the firefly which uses this process to attract mates by flashing their abdomens. Their larvae use it for an inverse effect, like to repel predators. Deep-sea squid is also known to use bio-luminescence for camouflage into their environmental light.

While celebrating on his wedding on a windy night in Maldives beach, Taiwanese photographer Will Ho captured what he thought at the time was ‘blue sand’. What he did actually end up stumbling upon was a massive tide of bio-luminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum.

These tiny organisms emit light under stress, and while the natural phenomenon has been known for some time, scientists just recently discovered what causes their glow. Stress can be attributed to strong wave current, and swimmers or fish stirring up the water. Similar phenomena have been spotted coming from beaches near San Diego, California since 1901, but their water is red due to algae bloom which is known as red tide.