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An extraordinary event

Tonight an extraordinary event happened while sailing through calm ocean waters during a quiet night. In absence of the moon the night was pitch-dark and around 23:00 hours a hard to capture phenomenon, but well known to sailors, occurred.

The ocean began to sparkle like a thousand tiny twinkling stars. Bright Green sparkles lit up for a couple of seconds. Then fading into the dark and  reappearing somewhere else. People who have watched the Hollywood movie Avatar can imagine the effect that the light has; the only difference is that the  color is green.

The sight itself was already amazing but then the water started to stir. Many dolphins found their way to the bulbous bow of our vessel. The Crew started  to descend towards the bow to view the spectacle to come. Soon, I was also there leaning over the edge.

As the dolphins approached the bow at high speeds their tracks lit up bright behind them, making them look like rapid incoming torpedoes. About twenty  dolphins gathered in front of the bow and the sight was spectacular. Like an underwater fireworks display they drew the most amazing green lines of light.

The glow which we saw was coming from bacteria, micro organisms and plankton in the water. The light that these creatures emit is called bio luminance light. They emit this light when they are disturbed by sudden motion. When we saw the light, the surrounding sea was  calm and black with only the  underwater hull and bow emitting a green glow because the vessel was moving. The dolphins created the same effect ‘waking up’ the luminous marine life by  moving the water around them.

I made a hundred pictures that night and luckily one came out just fine. It shows the underwater bulbous bow and the dolphins with their glowing tracks. The bio luminous color seems blue on the picture but in reality this color is bright green.

Captain MV Fairlift
Dennis Terpstra

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