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The Viral 'Blue Sparkle' on Chennai Beaches Is Really Bad for Fishes, Find Scientists

Since the night of August 18, a blue glow was witnessed in a couple of beaches-- Tiruvanmiyur and Elliot's in and around the city-- which also led to animated discussions over the social media.

News18.com

Updated:August 27, 2019, 9:05 AM IST
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The Viral 'Blue Sparkle' on Chennai Beaches Is Really Bad for Fishes, Find Scientists
Image credits: Twitter.
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Remember the blue glow from Chennai beaches that caught the attention of social media?

Visitors to the beach along the East Coast Road in Chennai were left surprised after they witnessed an unusual sight on the evening of Sunday, August 18 - waves in the beach were sparkling with a blue glow.

The very sight of blue waves in the Chennai beach left onlookers in awe, with many capturing it on their cameras. Soon the internet was swarmed with videos and pictures of the bluish glow of waves.

Analysis of samples has established that a blue glow witnessed recently in and around the city's coastline was due to blooming of sea sparkle species, a National Centre for Coastal Research scientist said on Sunday.

After a blue glow, known as bioluminescence was witnessed, samples were collected by the NCCR to establish various parameters and scientifically confirm the species behind it. The blue glow was caused by bioluminescence or blue sea sparkles which are a rare sight in Chennai.

"We have confirmed that it is Noctiluca scintillans (sea sparkle) of dinoflagellate (unicellular organism)," an NCCR scientist told PTI.

The species grew in size in a matter of few days and were also seen in places including Akkarai, Tiruvanmiyur and Elliot's beaches, he said.

Tamil Nadu Dr J Jayalalitha Fisheries University Vice Chancellor S Felix had on August 20 said the blue glow may be due to the blooming of "non-toxic marine dinoflagellate species, called Noctiluca scintillans."

Generally, the formation of this bloom is considered a bad sign for decline of fisheries in the particular location, Felix had said.

"Sometimes, the liberation of ammonia from the cells of the noctiluca may cause the large-scale mass kill of fish during the crash of the bloom," he had remarked.

Since the night of August 18, a blue glow was witnessed in a couple of beaches-- Tiruvanmiyur and Elliot's in and around the city-- which also led to animated discussions over the social media.

The species, in view of its phosphorescent glow during night hours, is commonly called "sea sparkle," according to the varsity head.

The bioluminescent light emitted by this organism in the sea water will be blue during night and during day, the water will look greenish.

It is slimy in nature during heavy bloom since it contained "endosymbiotic (organism that lives in the cells of another organism) green algae species Pedinomonas sp."

The blooming of bioluminescent marine algae generally appears after rainfall along the coast, which might bring in lot of nutrients and organic loadings and this could favour a sudden outburst in multiplication of this species, he said.

This species is known to feed on organisms including minute phytoplankton (consisting of microscopic plants), fish eggs and micro zooplankton (tiny organisms, which are protozoans and animals).

Both phytoplankton and zooplankton are tiny organisms that float over the sea and fresh waterbodies and play a key role in the marine ecosystem.

(With inputs from PTI)

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