NEWS

Sea Sparkle Is Cloaking Hong Kong's Shorelines In An Ethereal Blue Glow

23/01/2015 11:01 | Updated 23 January 2015

The shores of Hong Kong have been cloaked in an ethereal, spooky glow.

And while the fluorescent, glimmering patches are magnificent to look at, they are potentially toxic.

The luminosity is an indicator of a harmful algal bloom created by Noctiluca scintillans, aka Sea Sparkle.

hong kong algae bloom

It looks like algae and can act like algae. But it's not quite…

It is a single-celled organism that technically can function as both animal and plant.

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These type of blooms are triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries, according to University of Georgia oceanographer Samantha Joye.

algae hong kong

"Those pictures are magnificent. It's just extremely unfortunate that the mysterious and majestic blue hue is created by a Noctiluca," Joye said.

Noctiluca is a type of single-cell life that eats plankton and is eaten by other species.

The plankton and Noctilucabecome more abundant when nitrogen and phosphorous from farm waste increases.

hong kong algae

Unlike similar organisms, Noctiluca doesn't directly produce chemicals that can attack the nervous system or parts of the body.

But recent studies show it is much more complicated and links them to blooms that have been harmful to marine life.

Noctiluca's role as both prey and predator can eventually magnify the accumulation of algae toxins in the food chain, according to oceanographer R. Eugene Turner at Louisiana State University.

hong kong algae

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