British Wildlife 33.8 August 2022

Looking for that spark: bioluminescent plankton in British seas

Ocean bioluminescence has captivated observers for hundreds of years, with the first account originating from Ancient Greece in around 500 BCE. Guy Freeman reviews early observations of this phenomenon and the attempts to unravel its mystery, and explores the occurrence of ocean bioluminescence in British seas.

It is past 1am, but the seafront is still busy. The crowd includes a handful of anglers, and scattered beachgoers who, through barbecues and then bonfires, have extended a day’s sunbathing deep into the night. But these are outnumbered by another group, here for a quite different reason: plankton. And tonight, they are in luck – their quarry has arrived and is beginning to reveal itself.

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