The internet has been dropping jaws over the images of a surreal beach in Vaadhoo Island, Raa Atoll, Maldives. This phenomenon has been called the ‘Sea of Stars’ due to its glowing blue waves, it is definitely a fantasy like destination. This beach has got to be something that you see in person to truly see how surreal and beautiful it is, but how are these amazing glowing waves created? Well this phenomenon is caused by a natural chemical reaction known as bioluminescence, which occurs when a microorganism in the water is disrupted by oxygen, these microorganisms or marine microbes are called phytoplankton.
One of the most common phytoplankton that causes this reaction are known as dinoflagellates. As dinoflagellates float, movement in the surrounding water sends electrical impulses around which opens the voltage-sensitive proton ion changes activate a protein called luciferase. When luciferin is combined with oxygen it creates the neon blue light that amazes so many.
Even though the ‘Sea of Stars’ is an outstanding place, and somewhere I would like to visit, you would have to be careful with the microorganisms in the water. You are probably wondering how something so small could be dangerous to you. Well some of the dinoflagellates produce toxins that are harmful to fish, humans and other creatures as the blue they produce is thought to be some sort of defence system. Predators which eat the glowing dinoflagellates may attract bigger predators as they can still glow even when inside another creature, which may look interesting but could be harmful if a human was to swallow them.
So if you are planning on visiting the ‘Sea of Stars’ it may be best to leave the kids behind as we know how they drink half of the sea when they swim in it. Dinoflagellates are not the only organism that produces bioluminescence, other animals like krill, deep sea squids and anglerfish also have their own way and reasons for producing their own light. So what makes the sea of stars so special? It’s the fact that you are able to witness the neon blue wave’s right in front of you when you would usually have to go scuba diving to witness such amazing and unique sights.
Images via imgur