The Sea Shines Like the Sky at Night

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Magical sea waves? Not so much. Science? Hell yes!

Yet, it still is magical, isn’t it?

Bioluminescene is the ability of living organisms to produce light. This is made possible by a pigment called the luciferin interacting with an an enzyme called the luciferase. The bioluminescence on the seashores from the photos above is produced by dinoflagellates (plankton).

Fungi and other microorganisms usually possess this ability. Although the pictures above were taken at the shore of a beach in Vaadhoo Island in Maldives (x), bioluminescent organisms can be seen around the world, most recorded were from the Pacific waters. Deep sea marine animals also possess the ability, such as some jellyfish and anglerfish. The crystal jellyfish, for example, glows green when it’s agitated. We also see bioluminescence from the lights of the fireflies.

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It always amazes me how beautiful, magical things like this has a scientific explanation behind. It must be spectacular lying on a beach shore with the waters glowing like that, and under the glowing night sky at the same time. The world is a beautiful place indeed.

Bioluminescence, however, does not only give beauty to the world. It also has been proven to be very useful in the medical aspect. For many years, the pigments extracted from biolumiscent organisms are being used to study cell development and diseases (x). In 2008, a Nobel Peace Prize award was given to Shimomura for extracting green fluorescent pigment from crystal jellyfish. This pigment has been used as a genetic marker, labeling DNAs for studying development of cells and disease progression as well (x).

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Things that glow are always fascinating for me, the stars, the northern lights, the fireflies, these glowing plankton on the sea waves, even the lightning, etc. They all give me these feelings of wonder and amazement. I already witnessed the glowing fireflies seen from the mountains once. And that late afternoon was a beautiful scene. I wish someday I will see more of these luminous, amazing works of nature by God.

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Sources:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com
http://www.newscientist.com

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