The researcher is on the path of mysterious glow

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When the sun went down, the sailors could see the mysterious glow of the sea. A researcher tries to track down the phenomenon. (iconic image) © IMAGO/zittto

The mysterious sea glow from the stories told by sailors really does exist. A researcher is on a trail of horror.

Fort Collins – For centuries, sailors have reported a mysterious seaglow, in which the surface of the sea emits a similar dazzling glow, described as “a surreal day-bright iceberg under a dark, moonless sky” has gone. So-called “milky seas” are “huge swathes of evenly and consistently luminous oceans that can be seen at night,” explains researcher Steven Miller of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. “This phenomenon is thought to be caused by spiny bacteria, but the details of the composition, structure, cause and effect of milk seas in nature are still largely unclear.”

The “milk seas” may cover thousands of square kilometers, but they are difficult to pin down and difficult to study: they only appear twice a year. Only once did a research ship find itself in the glare of the ocean – this phenomenon has been little researched so far. “In contrast to the fleeting glow of bioluminescence produced by phytoplankton in turbulent waters, milky seas glow similarly in calm waters. It is thought that glowing bacteria communicate with each other and produce a glowing response when a critical population is reached. Let’s trigger it,” Miller describes the event.

Mysterious observation in the sea: the water turns white, the sea shines

The researcher has been on the road to the “milky sea” phenomenon for years. Using satellite data, he and a research team were able to Find the glow of the ocean in the ocean, So far, however, the researchers have been missing an important piece of the puzzle for their work: photographic observations of the “milky sea” from space as well as, from Earth. But now, for the first time, Miller has succeeded in establishing a connection between satellite data that points to seaglos and reports and photos of people who were in the right place at the right time: in the middle of a “sea of ​​milk.”

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In 2019, researchers used satellites to search for a broad ocean glow: it covers more than 100,000 square kilometers of ocean surface south of Java. For the first time, there is also a report from “on site”: the crew members of the private yacht Ganesh were able to see the mysterious phenomenon with their own eyes. In their new study, in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Science free Taken, Miller documents the crew’s experience and compares it to satellite images.

Marine lights: yacht crew witness spooky incident

The 16-metre yacht Ganesh was on a voyage with seven crew members when it was caught in the sea light in the eastern Indian Ocean in August 2019. The ship’s crew observed a terrible glow on the sea for about eight hours. Quote from study boat logbook:

Waking up at 10 pm, the sea was white. There is no moon, the sea seems to be full of plankton, but the bow wave is black! It feels like sailing on ice!

According to crew members aboard the yacht, the entire ocean was brighter than the night sky, with a steady glow visible on the horizon. The yacht crew took samples from the sea in a bucket – this water also shone. But where the seawater was carried – by ship or by shaking a bucket – the luster disappeared.

“Milky Seas”: Bacteria shine and color ocean water

Footage from GoPro cameras and multiple smartphones clearly shows the glowing sea stretching from horizon to horizon. A crew member attempted to describe the eerie view of the ocean in the logbook: “The color and intensity of the glow were similar to that of the stars/stickers shining in the dark or the glowing faces of the watch…very soft and easy glare on the eyes.” “

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Sea glow photos taken by Ganesh's crew.  Left: GoPro shot, Middle: Samsung smartphone shot, Right: Image adjusted to the crew's true color perception.
Sea glow photos taken by Ganesh’s crew. Left: GoPro shot, Middle: Samsung smartphone shot, Right: Image adjusted to the crew’s true color perception. © Ganesh’s Team

The yacht’s captain, Johann Lemmens, told researcher Miller that the glow came from something deeper – about ten meters below the water’s surface. This contradicts the previous notion that the glow-causing bacteria form a thin film on the surface that is disturbed by the movement of water. Thanks to the crew’s information, Miller now believes it was a “volumetric and/or submerged bacterial emission source”.

Researcher Miller is happy and has a very unscientific dream

“The biggest shortcoming in our study last year was the lack of soil data,” Miller said in a statement from his university. “But this current study provides them. It was a huge relief to have that contact with the Ganesh crew.” The ship’s crew reached out to Miller after their satellite sighting of the Sea of ​​Milk in 2019. “As we scientists In the community being able to observe these events from space, we hope that more eyewitnesses will come forward and scientists will put together more pieces of the puzzle,” Miller said.

The researcher wants to devote himself to the phenomenon and also has a completely unscientific dream, as he reveals in a statement from his university: “Above all, I dream of one day being on a ship that The giant goes to the sea. The milk in which we all take a dip and enjoy its splendor! I know it’s not very scientific, but what inspires us?” (tab)

The seas are still largely unexplored, so researchers are not only surprised by the seas of milk: in February, a Mysterious animal discovered off the coast of Italy,

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