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Glowing Maldives’ beaches

The most magical beaches in the world belong to Maldives. Incredible bright blue waves will surprise anyone! All this is due to the bioluminescent phytoplankton of the Vaadhoo Island in Maldives that stains the coast with thousands of blue lights.

Such an amazing glow occurs as a consequence of chemical processes in the body of these creatures; their energy is released in the form of light. This can be explained like this: an electrical pulse resulting from a mechanical stimulus opens ion channels. This process activates the enzyme, which leads to luminescence. Thus glowing unicellular dinoflagellates launches its illumination from the movement in the water.

Glowing beaches



More scientifically this process can be interpreted as follows: the mechanical forces acting in thickness of water cause an electrical pulse which rushes into the cells, for the special vacuole. This vacuole – membrane bubble – is filled with protons. It is connected with membrane vesicles with the luminous enzyme luciferase. When the electrical impulse arrives to the vacuole, proton gate opens. The hydrogen ions flow into the membrane vesicles with the glowing enzyme and acidify the environment in it that allows the bioluminescent reaction happen.

This happens when these marine microbes are agitated – when the water crashes onto the shore, someone steps on the wet sand or a paddle hits the waves. You can even write a love message, running your hand over the sand – the plankton that you have just touched, will display your sign by its unique glow.


This phenomenon also varies depending on time of year and weather conditions. This glow is best observed during the breeding season of these creatures. Seawater becomes especially bright blue when the plankton reaches its maximum number. But you should watch over them with special caution, as many of them generate dangerous for human and animal toxins. When there are too much of these magic dinoflagellates, it is recommended to enjoy the blue tide on the shore, not in the water – it would be more safely. When there are so many of them and a huge ocean surface emits such blue light, it is visible even from space!


Maldives beach

Glow-in-the-dark blue waves caused by the phenomenon known as harmful algal bloom or "red tide", are seen at night near Sam Mun Tsai beach in Hong Kong January 22, 2015. Algal blooms occur when there is a sharp growth in algae population in a water system, and are considered harmful when resulting in negative impacts on other organisms. Picture taken using long exposure.  REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)

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