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LOOK: Dazzling Blue Algae Lights Up Tasmanian Waters After Dark

Mar 16, 2017 06:43 AM EDT
Tasmania sea sparkle
Sea sparkle lights up the waters in the northwest coast of Tasmania.
(Photo : Protect Mother Earth/YouTube Screenshot)

The northwest coastline of Tasmania is extra spectacular as the ocean glows an eerie blue to the delight of photographers and travelers who got to glimpse the strange waters.

According to a report from Reuters, the special glow was brought about by a bioluminescent algae beneath the water. Known as the sea sparkle (Noctiluca scintillans), it's a single-celled algae or plankton that's normally reddish-brown and only glows bright blue when it's disturbed. In the ocean, it appears in its regular color in the morning, but the rocky waves transform it a mesmerizing blue at night.

The stunning effect of the algae on the waters as soon as the sun sets has attracted attention to Tasmania shores. Photographers were able to snap pretty photos of the unique phenomenon.

However, there is a darker side to the sea sparkle. Gustaaf Hallegraeff of the University of Tasmania told The Australian that this particular algae gorges on other plankton, which can be detrimental to other organisms that also eat plankton such as oysters and mussels.

"This is a plankton that needs to feed on other organisms and it is a voracious feeder; it really can behave like a vacuum cleaner," he said. "So it comes in, blooms, and then the water for weeks is crystal clear because it has eaten everything. And so shell fish farmers sometimes complain that there's no food left for their shell fish to eat."

In a similar event in Tasmania last 2015, a report in New Scientist revealed that the presence of sea sparkle - which has never been seen in Tasmania until 1994 - indicates rising temperatures in the region and consequently warmer waters.

"The displays are a sign of climate change," Anthony Richardson of CSIRO, Australia's national science agency in Brisbane, said. "As the Southern Ocean warms, it will be warm enough for Noctiluca to survive."

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