Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sea Sparkles?!.



As a matter of a fact, sea does sparkle indeed ! Recently, at night, our guests have been noticing glowing dots where the waves break on the beach. On some nights hundreds of these small planktonic creatures, each no bigger than a grain of sand, illuminate in electric blue as they are physically disturbed by the breaking wave. The organism causing this glow is Cypridina ostracod, (a planktonic creature). This glow, is called bioluminescence, and Cypridina glows when it is disturbed.


So why glow at all?.. It is thought that Cypridina flashes to confuse or scare away its predators. However the purpose of the flash may be even smarter: this flash may help it to attract bigger predators to eat Cypridina's predators, just like a burglar alarm that alerts the police to come to someone’s house to catch a robber.

4 comments:

  1. can we see this at Gili Lankanfushi?

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  2. Dear Abigail,

    This blog is about things that happen underwater at Gili, so yes, there is a chance to see this here :).

    However large quantity of sea sparkles is rather rare. Still, there is always a little bit of plankton in the water around our island, and if water is disturbed you will see small flicks of light !

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  3. What is the perfect time to see these sparkles??

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  4. Hi,
    It is really difficult to pinpoint exactly when we might get to see them on the beaches - even the experts are unsure! It seems they're more common during the Hulhangu monsoon between April-Nov and some islands are more prone to these Sea Sparkles than others, but again, this is poorly understood. However, the best chance for a guaranteed sighting is during a night snorkel or night dive. We can switch our torches off and disturb the water, which causes the little ostracod crustaceans to release this bioluminescent chemical and light up like little stars all around you. This can be done any time of year. For the calmest waters for the most relaxed snorkel, its best between December and April; for the brightest sparkles, head out in the waves between April-November!!

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