Amore e pianto, vivono accanto

Glowing Blue Waves Explained

Sea of Stars

Photograph by Doug Perrine, Alamy

Pinpricks of light on the shore seem to mirror stars above in an undated picture taken on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives.

The biological light, or bioluminescence, in the waves is the product of marine microbes called phytoplankton—and now scientists think they know how some of these life-forms create their brilliant blue glow.

Various species of phytoplankton are known to bioluminesce, and their lights can be seen in oceans all around the world, said marine biologist and bioluminescence expert Woodland Hastings of Harvard University. (Also see “Glowing Sea Beasts: Photos Shed Light on Bioluminescence.”)

“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,” Hastings said.

The most common type of marine bioluminescence is generated by phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates. A recent study co-authored by Hastings has for the first time identified a special channel in the dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals—offering a potential mechanism for how the algae create their unique illumination.

—Ker Than

read more here …


7 responses

  1. ☆ MagicAperture

    Very spectacular…

    April 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm

  2. beautiful~

    April 3, 2012 at 10:01 am

  3. Not only beautiful, but also amazingly interesting! I can’t wait to check out your associated links.

    April 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    • thank you
      thought it was really cool too, who said science is not beautiful 🙂

      April 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      • I don’t know who said it, but they were VERY wrong! 🙂

        April 6, 2012 at 8:42 pm

  4. More on biological light, or Bioluminescence ~ Bioluminescent Organisms, Japan

    April 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

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