A Bioluminescent Bloom in Hong Kong

A bloom of Noctiluca scintillans, a large, green marine dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence when disturbed, was captured in photos made earlier today in Hong Kong, with a long exposure showing an eerie glow along the seashore. The luminescence, also called Sea Sparkle, is triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries, according to University of Georgia oceanographer Samantha Joye. Noctiluca itself does not produce neurotoxins like other similar organisms do. But its role as both prey and predator can eventually magnify the accumulation of toxins in the food chain, according to R. Eugene Turner at Louisiana State University.

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