Tag Archive: Bioluminescence

Red Tide – Blue Bioluminescence

A few of us photogs heard that the red tide was causing a beautiful display of blue luminescence in the water along the Port Elizabeth and Eastern Cape coast-line.  The opportunity was immediately snapped up to try out some long exposure shots of the water and surrounding area. Having not really done any long exposures before, I needed a little help from some fellow photogs and here are two of my favorites coming from this shoot.
The first picture is deliberately under-exposed in order to bring out the colours better.

Maitlands Red Tide Bioluminescence

This second photo was taken with a colder white balance to bring out the blues of the luminescence.

Maitlands Red Tide Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. In this case, the plankton.

A red tide is the common name for an algal bloom involving large concentrations of red or brown-coloured microorganisms, caused by a few species of dinoflagellates . Red tides are events in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, resulting in coloration of the surface water.

These algae, known as phytoplankton, are single-celled protists, plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water’s surface. Certain species of phytoplanktondinoflagellates, contain photosynthetic pigments that vary in color from green to brown to red. In this case, mainly blue

When the algae are present in high concentrations, the water appears to be discolored or murky, varying in color from purple to almost pink, normally being red or green. Not all algal blooms are dense enough to cause water discoloration, and not all discolored waters associated with algal blooms are red. Additionally, red tides are not typically associated with tidal movement of water, hence the term algal bloom.

Some red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins, depletion of dissolved oxygen or other harmful effects, and are generally described as harmful algal blooms. During Red Tides, it is often advisable NOT to eat various shellfish (filter feeders such as mussels and oysters) as these may contain toxins that might harm us.  Some of the symptoms of red tide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and pain. Other more severe problems may develop depending on the toxins, like difficulty swallowing, sense of throat constriction, speech incoherence or complete loss of speech and even paralysis.
Some of this information supplied by Wikipedia