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Australian coastline glows in the dark in sinister sign of climate change

The Guardian logo The Guardian 16-03-2017 Jonny Weeks
Bioluminesence on Saturday night at Preservation Bay on the North West coast of Tasmania, Australia. By Brett Chatwin: What’s wet and glows in the dark? Bioluminescence on Saturday night at Preservation Bay on the north-west coast of Tasmania, Australia. © Brett Chatwin What’s wet and glows in the dark? Bioluminescence on Saturday night at Preservation Bay on the north-west coast of Tasmania, Australia.

The waters along Tasmania’s north-west coastline have taken on a bizarre, glowing appearance in recent days. Photographs taken off Preservation Bay and Rocky Cape showcase bioluminescent waters caused by a natural phenomenon known as noctiluca scintillans (AKA sea sparkle), which happens when tiny plankton turn blue in self-defence. 

The phenomenon, which is best seen in calm, warm seas, is foreboding. “The displays are a sign of climate change,” Anthony Richardson, from the CSIRO, told New Scientist after an occurrence in Tasmania in 2015.

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