ATLAS OBSCURA

Gippsand Lakes - Australia

The conditions were rare, and they were perfect. Starting with a series of bush fires in 2006, followed by torrential rains in 2007, by 2008 massive amounts of ash and nitrogen rich soul was washed into the Gippsand Lake in Southeast Australia. While this would have normally resulted in a bloom of bacteria, because of the scale of the fires and the flood, that year something unusual happened.

A massive algae bloom of Noctiluca Scintillans, visible as murky red patches during the day, appeared replacing the more usual normal green Synechococcus. But the Noctiluca Scintillans had another trick up its sleeve: at night it glowed.

In the summer of 2008 and 2009 the shores of the Gippsland Lakes glowed a faint blue at night as the bacteria were agitated by movement in the water. Anyone taking a skinny dip at night would find the water glowing spectacularly around them. 

Gippsland Lake Bioluminescence | Atlas Obscura

(Photos Copyright: Copyright Phil Hart under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License)