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No. 79: Jan-Feb 1992

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Milky Sea

A report from the Captain of the m.v. Benalder, enroute from Singapore to Jeddah.

"18 August 1990. At 1640 UTC the sea surface was noticed to have a white appearance which at first was thought to be low-lying fog. This theory was disproved when shining a light in the water gave to noticeable increase in luminance.

"The phenomenon extended to the horizon in all directions and was bright enough to make the ship's foredeck and the sky appear much darker than the sea. Its appearance and disappearance was gradual apart from an area of normal sea which was passed about five minutes before the phenomenon faded away ay 1725."

(Anderson, F.G.J.; "Bioluminescence," Marine Observer, 61:117, 1991.)

Comment. Luminous bacteria are usually blamed for milky seas, but biologists have paid little attention to the phenomenon.

Reference. Milky seas and "white water" are cataloged in GLW9 in Lightning, Auroras. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #79, JAN-FEB 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss