Visitors to the Thiruvanmiyur beach in Chennai were in for an unusual sight over the weekend, after they spotted bioluminescent waves along the shore on Sunday night.
Visitors to the beach were left awestruck with the bluish glow along the coast, given that bioluminescence has rarely been spotted on Chennai beaches. Videos and pictures of the phenomenon soon took over social media in the city on Sunday.
Bioluminescence observed in Chennai, ECR beach.. pic.twitter.com/dBPjNMrMLw
— Pramod Madhav (@madhavpramod1) August 19, 2019
— Sundar G (@SunOfGan) August 18, 2019
— Ankit (@theStyleWallah) August 19, 2019
Bioluminescence is caused by Noctiluca scintillans, a type of phytoplankton that convert their chemical energy into light energy when washed ashore.
It is found in many marine organisms such as bacteria, algae, jellyfish, worms, crustaceans, sea stars, fish and sharks. According to marine experts, the phenomenon is an indicator of climate change and can have an impact on deep sea fishing.
Visitors to the Thiruvanmiyur beach in #Chennai were in for an unusual sight on Sunday, after they spotted bioluminescent waves along the shore
Dr. Pravakar Mishra, a specialist in Coastal Processes and Shoreline Management Studies at National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), said the bioluminescence could have been caused by heavy rain and discharge of sewage into the ocean on Sunday night.
“NCCR has been monitoring beaches in Chennai for the past five years. This is the first time that we are noticing this type of plankton bloom”, said Dr. Mishra. “The phytoplankton burst could have occurred due to heavy rain and discharge of sewage into the ocean on Sunday. Factors such as pattern of the wind and the temperature of the ocean also determine the occurrence of bioluminiscent waves,” Mishra added.
While bioluminescence is not common in India, there are several tourist places across the world which are famous for the phenomenon. The Blue Grotto in Malta is one of nine caves near the island of Filfa that produces a phosphorescent glow. Similar to the Blue Grotto are Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico, San Diego in California, Navarre Beach in Florida, and Toyama Bay in Japan.