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No. 118: Jul-Aug 1998

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Phosphorescent Rings And Wheels

October 13, 1996. Arabian Gulf. Aboard the tanker Arabiyah. Expanding phosphorescent rings were observed emanating from a single point. These rings were equally spaced and expanded outwards for about 500 meters before disappearing. Rings with spoke systems also formed, rotating clockwise. The observers had the distinct impression that the rings were above the sea surface.

We have reported on so many of these light wheels in the past 22 years that we have skimped on the details in favor of the comments made by P. Herring of the Southampton Oceanography Centre.

"This is a fascinating account of the most spectacular (and rare) bioluminescent phenomenon known (I have a record of some 250 reports in the last 100 years). These wheels/rings occur in relatively shallow water and are most frequently encountered in the Arabian Gulf and Bay of Bengal. The is no agreed cause, though some scientists have suggested seismic disturbances on the sea floor may be responsible."

(Kent, D.R.; "Phosphorescent Wheels," Marine Observer, 67:192, 1997.)

Comment. The frequent impression that these marine phosphorescent phenomena occur above the water surface is always puzzling because the bioluminescent organisms supposedly responsible are below the surface.

From Science Frontiers #118, JUL-AUG 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss