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No. 4: July 1978

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Bioluminescence And Spurious Radar Echoes

March 18, 1977. North Atlantic. Throughout the day, spurious echoes had been appearing on the radar screen aboard the m.v. Ebani. Resembling the echoes from small clusters of fishing boats, they would close to within 5 nautical miles and then disappear. At 2200, echoes appeared, closed to within 5.5 nautical miles, and then spread out around the ship in a circle, all the while maintaining a 5-mile range. At this time, the entire sea took on a milky appearance and a fishy smell was dected. The beam from an Aldis lamp revealed luminescent organisms in the sea. After 45 minutes, both milky sea and spurious radar echoes disappeared together.

(Richards, A.W.; "Radar Echoes and Bioluminescence," Marine Observer, 48: 20, 1978.)

Comment. Why should radar echoes and bioluminescence be connected? Does the "fishy smell" imply that the milky sea released something into the atmosphere that created a radar target? Other bioluminescent phenomena, including the famous "light wheels" are catalogued in Section GLW in Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights. For more information on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #4, July 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987