This Beautiful Photo Spells Doom for the Sea

By Chris Mills on at

This photo looks innocent enough: a simple, breathtakingly beautiful long-exposure shot of algae along the Hong Kong shoreline. But under the surface, the blue luminescence, called 'Sea Sparkle', is bad news for the ocean.

Noctiluca scintillans algal bloom, as Sea Sparkle is more correctly known, is caused by farm pollution that can be seriously bad news for marine life. Noctiluca feeds off the nitrogen and phosphorus run-off from industry, causing a high concentration around some shorelines. The bad news is that ammonia is a byproduct of the Noctiluca growth, and high concentrations of ammonia is thought to (unsurprisingly) disturb marine life that lives in the area.

Image credit: AP Photo/Kin Cheung