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No. 107: Sep-Oct 1996

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Horizon-to-Horizon Bioluminescent Bubbling Band

June 5, 1995. East China Sea. Aboard the m.v. Tokyo Bay enroute Busan to Kaohsiung.

"At 1830 UTC whilst the ship was on a course of 218 at 21.5 knots, what seemed to be hundreds of fishing lights were seen right ahead of the ship and stretching from horizon to horizon. As the ship approached them, it became apparent that the lights were bioluminescence.
"The appearance was like large single 'blobs' approximately the size of tennis balls, while at the main concentration the water seemed to be 'bubbling up' in a line stretching to both horizons. When the ship passed through the line, the luminescence gave off such a glare, as bright as daylight, that it was possible to read the identification numbers of the containers on the focsle. The duration of the phenomenon was about 5 minutes or 1.5 n.mile."

(Hughan, D.S.; "Bioluminescence," Marine Observer, 66:62, 1996)

Comment. P.J. Herring, Southampton Oceanography Centre, called this display "a most unusual account which I am unable to interpret." He opined that the blobs were probably cylindrical colonies of luminous sea squirts, but he could not account for the 1.5-milewide, horizon-to-horizon bright glare and associated bubbling.

Reference. For more on bioluminescent anomalies, see Chapter GLW in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. Ordering information here.

From Science Frontiers #107, SEP-OCT 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss