There are so many natural wonders here in Tasmania. Not just our amazing fauna and flora. The landscapes, the waterways, the clear night sky. The Aurora Australis. Sometimes something else grabs your attention.
Bioluminescence. One of the most amazing introduced pests into our sea.
The bright blue glow is caused by billions of single-celled algae or plant plankton called Noctiluca scintillans, (latin for sparkling night light) or sea sparkles. It is more common in the warmer months but can occur at any time. These micro creatures have a built in biological clock and will only sparkle in complete darkness. Even if you put them in a jar, they will not flash in daytime, they will only flash in complete darkness.
This was my first time photographing bioluminesence.
For a first experience it was incredible and as my friends who had photographed it before said it was such phenomenal amount.
I drove here and as I turned towards the cove the whole area was blue. I could see it so well. Word had not got out at this point so the couple of people who had sent me a message (Huge thanks to them) meant we were able to get some wonderful shots, before it was made public as others spread the word. This was truly an exceptional occurrence to have so many Noctiluca scintillans the lights across the bay it was still visible to my naked eyes(without a camera).
You could have photographed this bioluminescence with a mobile phone this particular night. It really was such a fantastic experience. I became hooked in keeping my eye out for this wonderful natural show.
Generally it is not such a volume of bioluminescence and you will often see it on the wave tips or if it is gently moving about off shore a bit. If it is too windy it may break up the mass of the Noctiluca scintillans
I have had fun since this first night running in the sand near or in the water and seeing these algae flash blue in my foot steps, or throwing water from a bottle, to spray and splash, or I am now thinking one of those big water pistols.
If you are on the hunt be it for bioluminescence, Aurora, or the night sky. Please be considerate of others who are also taking photographs.
This photographer, had a bright light and torch, as can be seen, and had positioned herself right in front of me. I had been there for a while and it was easier for me to move than create an issue.
As more and more people came as the word spread, excitement was tangible. I do understand the desire for a photo, and I look at this shot and see an interesting photograph of someone else enjoying a natural occasion that she may never have an opportunity to experience again.
The fact so many people are interested is great, if they are considerate and in built up areas quiet sadly this has not always been the situation I have had when taking some photos in more known locations. I now do not share exact locations of where I shoot. As for me part of the experience is the peace and quiet.
Living in the south of the state and having so many known locations close to Hobart is wonderful for tourists and those who are studying or working from overseas.
Are they dangerous to humans? Do not ingest Noctiluca or put it on the face, eyes, or mouth. Brief handling such as swishing water with the hands or dancing in the light generally cause no adverse effects. Still water in canals and lagoons near urban regions must be treated with caution.
Does it hurt them when we splash around? Splashing around doesn’t hurt them. The tide stranding them on the beach – or us stomping on them – will dry them or crush them; these actions are generally fatal to them. However, they are clonal, so “fatal” is not as terminal as it sounds.
Can I take them home? Yes! In a widemouth jar in a cool area (not the refrigerator or freezer), they will live several days or more. Open the jar during the day, and replace the lid before swirling. They will not luminesce during daytime, but if the jar is tapped or gently swirled at night in a dark room, they will put on quite a sparkling show!
Because they are an introduced pest, after you are finished with them, ecologically appropriate disposal methods include down the drain or poured down the driveway.
This information provided from The definitive guide -How to find and photograph sea sparkle bioluminescence . Text by Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin, Fiona Walsh and Matt Holz.
These are just some of the wonders that glow at night here in Tasmanian, apart from Aurora and the clear dark night skies. I will post more about my experiences.
I have been fortunate and experienced many more nights taking photos of the Noctiluca scintillans. I do have to say that this my first experience was perhaps the largest mass I have been fortunate to see so far.
Many places around the world have these algae.
I am thankful for all the amazing naturally occurring things that I am surrounded by here in my southern Tasmanian home. I am thankful to be able to look for them, and spend time sitting in the wonder, and enjoyment of the experience. I am thankful that I am so privileged to have time to do this. I am thankful to have been able to share with you my joy and photographs.
Blessings to you all Tazzie