Those crossing the East Coast Road along the beaches near Chennai, witnessed a rare phenomenon on Sunday. The phenomenon is called ‘sea sparkles’ or bioluminescence on the beaches- where the water gets a bluish fluorescent glow. Many shared the videos and pictures of the beautiful sight on social media.
Whaaaaat a nightCaught the #ChennaiSeaSparkle off ECR for over an hour & it was a SPECTACULAR SIGHT Brilliant Neon Blue display of glowing bioluminescent #plankton / #algae bloom lit up the crashing waves of several beaches in #Chennai tonight#GlobalWarming !?! #SeaSparkle pic.twitter.com/jES19GAWHL
— T R B Rajaa (@TRBRajaa) August 18, 2019
2 hours of just sea gazing pic.twitter.com/QNsSHrx2z9
— Livowksi (@ajaw_) August 18, 2019
Those who have watched the Malayalam movie ‘Kumbalangi Nights’, released in February, would have seen a similar scene where the characters are seen playing in the bluish glow in the backwaters of Kerala. Director Madhu C Narayanan had said that they had used VFX to create that scene.
Scientists, however, have raised concerned that the beautiful sight might not be a good sign.
The phenomenon is triggered by Noctiluca Scintillans, a parasite which is also called the sea tinkle or sea sparkle. This algae produces light when disturbed, thus creating the fluorescent light. Scientists say that the growing abundance of this algae might adversely affect fish.
According to The Hindu, Noctiluca are known to be voracious predators of planktonic organisms (diatoms), leading to disruption of the marine food chain. They also excrete large amounts of ammonia, causing massive fish mortality. These algal patches are also linked to coastal pollution and runoff from agricultural areas.
Pollution Or Global Warming?
Earlier researches said that this algae bloom could be due to coastal pollution caused by fertilizers and waste along the Indian coast. However, last year, a combined research by India and the US studied that global warming is contributing to the increase in this algae.
The research, published in the journal Harmful Algae, noted that warming of the surface waters of the Arabian Sea and reduction in the nutrient flux were the main reasons for their increase, reported The Hindu.
When asked about the cause of the phenomenon in Chennai, Pooja Kumar from the Coastal Resource Centre told The News Minute, “There have been studies that show that the warming of oceans could be responsible for the spotting of bio-luminescence. If that is the cause, it is a cause of worry and should be investigated further we will, however, be looking whether there is fish kill. And if it is not recurring it is not a cause of worry.”