North Sea Turned Fluorescent Blue By Plankton

Story ByMichael Leidig, Sub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCentral European News

The North Sea along Belgian beaches has been glowing blue after the unusually warm weather caused an explosion of bioluminescence plankton.

Marine biologist Jan Seys of the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) said: “It is the most beautiful natural phenomenon in our country. I think it is even comparable to the northern lights.”

He said that it was more normally visible from mid-May through to early July, but the short winter this year meant the seawater’s had warmed up sooner, which were the ideal conditions for the plankton.

CEN/Aaron Fabrice de Kisangani

Pictures of the seawater show it glowing blue as the plankton reproduce rapidly in the favourable conditions.

He said: “The seawater is already warm enough, and there is enough sunshine and plenty of food. It means that the plankton are producing at lightning speed until there are billions of them.

That means there is then enough to give off a blue light in the darkness.”

CEN/Aaron Fabrice de Kisangani

He said the chemical reaction making the plankton release light occurred whenever there was movement in the water, which means it is mainly visible when there are waves crashing on the beach or wind blows over the surface of the sea.

It is only however visible at night, and most people in the country are unable to enjoy it because of the current restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus.

This relatively large one-celled plankton are not the only North Sea organism which exhibits bioluminescence.

CEN/Aaron Fabrice de Kisangani

Two other species also emit light, including the glowing jellyfish the ‘mauve stinger’ (Pelagia noctiluca) and various species of bacteria, which live further from the coast than plankton.

Scientists note that some fish can also glow after feasting on the bacteria and some normally non-light-emitting jellyfish will give off light after eating the plankton or the bacteria.

These pictures were shared by Aaron Fabrice de Kisangani he said he was feeling grateful having the chance to see them on the beach near his home at Oostduinkerke.

He added: “The beauty of luminous Sea Sparkle… Something nice and magical in this difficult time.”

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