Bioluminescent bloom! Radiant blue sparkle may be beautiful, but may also be signal of danger


Team Udayavani, Nov 28, 2020, 10:36 AM IST

Mangaluru: Bioluminescence which causes the sea waves to turn into radiant blue is a lifetime experience to witness and we have seen photos and videos that show the sparkling blue ocean waves, fascinating the beachgoers over the past few days. However, this rare spectacle is linked to massive fish and marine invertebrate kills.

The bloom of Noctiluca Scintillans, commonly known as sea sparkle may be beautiful, but it may also be a signal of danger. Many of the species in this group are toxic and if dinoflagellates reproduce rapidly, they may also cause so-called ‘red tides’.

During this period all the animals, molluscs, fish, etc. that feed on dinoflagellates also become toxic due to the accumulation of high amounts of toxins from dinoflagellates.

It is dangerous to eat such sea animals because the toxins that are contained in them may have various unpleasant effects, some merely irritate the bowel and cause food poisoning, whereas others, being neurotoxins, may even have an effect on memory.

Some species, such as the sea sparkle also know as ‘Noctiluca scintillans’ are not as toxic, but may have other unpleasant effects.

Bioluminescence has been an annual occurrence along the west coast since 2016 during the months of November and December and occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms, such as glowing mushrooms that dazzled the bamboo forests of Meghalaya.

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