Injambakkam beach in Chennai and Besant Nagar’s Eliot’s Beach notices a blue shimmer on waves

On 18th August 2019, visitors to the Injambakkam beach in Chennai and Besant Nagar’s Eliot’s Beach noticed a blue shimmer on the waves i.e. Popularly known as ‘Sea Tinkle’. According to marine experts, the Noctiluca algae were behind this blue glow phenomenon. The algae exhibit the phenomenon of bioluminescence (or biologically produce light when disturbed). The light is produced by a chemical reaction in the presence of oxygen involving an enzyme called “luciferase”. Bioluminescence has been observed in fireflies, a few beetles and in marine creatures such as Anglerfish and copepods. Though the sight that algae produce is beautiful, their arrival may not be good news for marine health. Noctiluca are known to be voracious predators of planktonic organisms(diatoms) that leads to disruption of the marine food chain. Such blooms have been reported annually in the Northern Arabian Sea since the early 2000s. Goa, Mumbai and the backwaters of Kerala have witnessed these algal blooms. Recently the magical glow featured in the Malayalam movie Kumbalangi Nights, which gained much attention.

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