Look out for ‘sea sparkles’ in the waves

A blue glow in the waves around some of Algoa Bay’s beaches captured the public’s attention during the red tide in 2014. Picture: Marius Janse van Rensburg.
A blue glow in the waves around some of Algoa Bay’s beaches captured the public’s attention during the red tide in 2014. Picture: Marius Janse van Rensburg.

The  waves around some of Algoa Bay’s beaches could light up and give off a shimmering sight for the next few nights as the red tide makes way for a bioluminescent plankton species.

But this all depends on the perfect mix of tides and winds.

If it happens, it could display the same blue glow that captured the public’s attention in 2014, according to NMMU’s coastal and marine research.

NMMU botany department head Dr Derek du Preez said samples taken at various stations in the Bay showed the initial plankton species, lingulodinium polyedrum, that caused the red tide had dissipated, and a new non-toxic species had taken its place.

“We examined a sample [this week], which was dominated by a different species by the name of noctiluca scintillans and commonly known as sea sparkle because it is bioluminescent,” Du Preez said.

“Noctiluca scintillans tends to colour the water orange rather than the reddish colour produced by lingulodinium polyedrum.”

Du Preez said it would be difficult to predict where the “sea sparkles” would be visible as they were sensitive to the tide and wind conditions, but that residents should keep an eye out for the shiny display.

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