Bioluminescent plankton known as ‘northern lights of the sea’ spotted on UK coastlines
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Bioluminescent plankton have been seen putting on a show on the coasts of the UK. Emma Tumulty shared her experience of finally locating the magical phenomenon and referred to them as the “northern lights of the ocean”.
Tumulty first came across bioluminescent plankton when she was on a night dive in Thailand about 15 years ago, and at the time had no idea it could be seen much closer to home. After years of hoping, she finally hit the jackpot this June when she was lucky enough to see the plankton in live action on UK shores. She spotted the show during a morning visit to Caswell Bay in Gower, Swansea.
The 42-year-old teacher from Cardiff told the BBC: "It started off when I did a trip to Anglesey three years ago to hopefully see the bioluminescence at Penmon Point because it’s a really good place to see it".
The phenomenon in question is when an electric blue flashes along the edge of waves as they roll towards shore. The colour is caused by tiny creatures called bioluminescent plankton, floating in the sea that have the ability to emit light when disturbed by a predator or motion.
Pictures of the magical phenomenon have flooded the internet over the years, and sent people searching far and wide for the chance to catch a glimpse of the natural wonder. Much like the northern lights, many groups have been made on social media to help people share when and where they have spotted the phenomenon making it easier than ever for people to be in with a chance of spotting the plankton.
Emma Tumulty told the BBC she joined the Facebook group Bioluminescent plankton watch last year, which shares information with plankton seekers, and last weekend went with three friends for an overnight stay determined to make it happen. She said: "It was a risk, but it was a risk worth taking. There’s nothing like seeing it in Wales, on your own doorstep.
"We surveyed three bays. I went to Caswell and there was nothing there, then we went to Oxwich and nothing there. Then we thought we’d try Caswell again. As we walked down the beach, it was so apparent. The water was glowing. It came in with a wave. It was so amazing we stayed for an hour. I would class it as the northern lights of the ocean."
Tumulty shared advice with others hoping to catch the magical event saying: "It’s got to be very dark, No torchlight, no headlights."