PHOTOGRAPHER: Kerry Doyle
The photo shows ‘sea-sparkle’, which is bioluminescence produced by a bloom of the single-celled predatory dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans. Though the dinoflagellates prefer warm waters, blooms are triggered by an increase in nutrients that boost the abundance of the microscopic prey of the dinoflagellates. These events can also occur in the cooler months. The blooms can’t last forever, because they eventually run low on food supply. Winds and/or currents can then concentrate the starving cells and push them shoreward. They bioluminesce in response to disturbance, e.g. from waves lapping the shore.