Bioluminescence at Tasmania’s Preservation Bay delights people

Locals at Tasmania’s Preservation Bay had a delightful experiencing witnessing the bioluminescent algae, commonly called sea sparkle.

The bright blue glow is caused by billions of single-celled algae or plant plankton called Noctiluca scintillans, or “sea sparkle” which thrives in calm, warm sea conditions. Although not toxic, the algae can cause skin irritations in some people.

Sea sparkle put on a show in Preservation Bay, on the northern coast of Tasmania, and photographer Brett Chatwin captured the phenomenon in these photos.

“The whole bay was iridescent blue,” Chatwin told the BBC. “I was gobsmacked. It was just an amazing sight.”

Aquatic botanist Gustaaf Hallegraeff, a professor at the University of Tasmania, told the BBC that the glowing is a defense mechanism of the organisms, similar to a “burglar alarm.” “Something wants to eat you, you flash at it and then you scare it away,” he said.

Bioluminescence can be seen in waters in different parts of the world, including Puerto Rico, so you don’t have to travel to Tasmania to see the sea sparkle — although it is a phenomenal destination.

See more of his photography on Facebook.