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No. 17: Fall 1981

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Bioluminescent Cartwheels And Whirlpools In The Arabian Sea

6 March 1980. Arabian Sea.

"At 1552 GMT bioluminescence in the form of diffused white light in 'whirlpool' and 'cartwheel' formations was observed; within 3 minutes it completely encircled the vessel and extended to the horizon. The 'cartwheel' formations were brightest at the centre with a halo effect surrounding the outer edges. As the vessel passed over 2 such formations the 'spokes' were estimated to be 2-2 metres in width and the entire concentration, which was more than the width of the vessel (approximately 27 metres), was observed on both sides of the bridgewing simultaneously. The 'whirlpool' formations, with a distinct central hub, varied from l to 2 metres in width and from 14 to 15 metres in length. The phenomenon was observed for 40 minutes."

(Messinger, P.A.; "Bioluminescence," Marine Observer, 51:13, 1981.)

Comment. This is the first report uncovered that described "whirlpool" formations. The variety of phosphorescent formations and their long durations cast doubt on the usual seismic explanation.

Reference. The many strange types of marine biolouminescence are detailed in Section GLW in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. Details here.

From Science Frontiers #17, Fall 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss