Bioluminescent Phytoplankton, Juhu Beach, Mumbai

by Shashank Dalvi
Shashank Dalvi

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

This phenomenon was first observed in Mumbai earlier this year. It was again witnessed a couple of days ago at Juhu beach in North Mumbai. While oceans across the world contain these bioluminescent organisms, it’s a special sight to see them so close to the shore!

We all saw this spectacle in ‘Life of Pi’ without realizing what it was! These are bioluminescent phytoplanktons called dinoflagellates. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light (at night) by a living organism. Phytoplankton are photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that inhabit the upper sunlit layer of almost all oceans and fresh water bodies on Earth. They emit a protein called luciferase which helps them glow in the night.

There are several genera of dinoflagellates which are bioluminescent. Most of them emit blue-green light. It is a common phenomenon across the world including along Indian coasts.

This phenomenon was first observed in Mumbai by Nilesh Mane and Abir Jain earlier this year. It was again witnessed a couple of days ago at Juhu beach in North Mumbai. While oceans across the world contain these bioluminescent organisms, it’s a special sight to see them so close to the shore.

For more information read: Pictures: Glowing Blue Waves Explained

About the author

Shashank Dalvi

Shashank Dalvi is an alumnus of the MSc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation Program (NCBS, WCS-India).



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