A Noctiluca scintillans bloom along the seashore in Hong Kong, 22 January 2015. These blooms are triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries. Photo: Kin Cheung / AP Photo

By Nick Kirkpatrick
23 January 2015

(Washington Post) – Along a seashore in Hong Kong yesterday, a vibrant blue glow was seen emanating from the water. Beautiful photographs show the shore glimmering, with the lights of the city sparkling in the background.

But this idyllic setting is potentially toxic.

The luminescence is an algal bloom created by Noctiluca scintillans, nicknamed “sea sparkle.” When disturbed by currents or waves, the bloom glows. “It looks like algae and can act like algae. But it’s not quite,” wrote Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press. “Noctiluca is a type of single-cell life that eats plankton and is eaten by other species.”

So why is it toxic? Such blooms are caused by farm pollution. “The plankton and Noctiluca become more abundant when nitrogen and phosphorous from farm run-off increase,” Borenstein wrote, “Noctiluca’s role as both prey and predator can eventually magnify the accumulation of algae toxins in the food chain.” […]

Noctiluca scintillans can be lethal to plants and animals. Scientists think the dead zone was created when the species killed off native algae and compromised the fish population. Gwynn Guilford of Quartz wrote: “Few animals can survive ‘dead zones’ of oxygen-poor water. As the scientists discovered, N. scintillans thrives in these conditions…. And once a dead zone sets in, it’s hard for the ocean to recover.” [more]

The killer algae making Hong Kong’s water glow


A Noctiluca scintillans bloom along the seashore in Hong Kong, 22 January 2015. These blooms are triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries. Photo: Kin Cheung / AP Photo

By SETH BORENSTEIN
22 January 2015

(Associated Press) – Eerie fluorescent blue patches of water glimmering off Hong Kong's seashore are magnificent, disturbing and potentially toxic, marine biologists say.

The glow is an indicator of a harmful algal bloom created by something called Noctiluca scintillans, nicknamed Sea Sparkle.

It looks like algae and can act like algae. But it's not quite. It is a single-celled organism that technically can function as both animal and plant.

These type blooms are triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries, according to University of Georgia oceanographer Samantha Joye, who was shown Associated Press photos of the glowing water.

"Those pictures are magnificent. It's just extremely unfortunate that the mysterious and majestic blue hue is created by a Noctiluca," Joye wrote in an email Thursday.

This is part of a problem that is growing worldwide, said Joye and other scientists. [more]

Beautiful, eerie fluorescent glow of Hong Kong seas indicates harmful algal bloom at work

1 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    It's beautiful!  

 

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