Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Wonders of the Ocean
Photo by Billy Ficke
The wonders of the ocean never cease to amaze.  The beauty is undeniable, the serenity is irreplaceable, and the memories unforgettable... both day and night. If you visit the beach this week, be sure to take a leisurely stroll in the evening. You'll enjoy the cool sea air... hear the waves gently breaking along the shore, and you may even see something quite amazing!  You may be treated to the ocean waves and sands lit with a beautiful, luminous, blue-green glow!  Take a closer look as your ankles glide through the waves.  Run your hands through the sand and watch as the glow increases.  

What is this mysterious glow?  Like lightning bugs, some ocean creatures, from small plankton to jelly fish to even some fish and sharks, can produce this bioluminescence glowing light.  The ocean critters putting on the big show right now are Dinoflagellates, also known as Noctiluca. The word "Noctiluca" is Latin for "night light."  These organisms, belonging to a group of microscopic plants, feed on plankton and have the ability to produce light when disturbed or agitated.  It's no wonder that the breaking waves cause the shore to light up with this wondrous glow, or that this rare phenomenon is stimulated by your footprints or touch.  No need to worry as this unique form of life will cause you no harm. It will only leave you longing to see more!

This bioluminescence phenomenon can be caused by a number of factors, including temperature, current patterns, and nutrients in the water and usually occurs in the late summer and early fall when water temperatures are up. Animals, endowed with this ability, can use their lights to deter predators, attract a mate or to lure in prey. 

Filmmaker, James Cameron, drew inspiration from this glimmering life form for his sci-fi movie Avatar. Cameron consulted exobiologists, botanists and physicists to create the world of Pandora. It's so interesting to realize his make believe world was created around the very real concept of bioluminescence, which is found right here on our own little planet, Earth. 

Needless to say, the mysterious wonders of the ocean and its many life forms are mostly hidden beneath the surface.  However, we are sometimes fortunate enough to witness an amazing oceanonic phenomenon.  So during your upcoming Sandbridge Beach vacation, be sure to spend some time under the stars.  You and your family may just come across one of the most incredible sights on the planet. 

Siebert Realty Vacation 
Beach Home & Condo Rentals
877-422-2200  /  757-426-6200

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