When the Ocean Glows: An Ode to Bioluminescence

At the siren call of the tides
they come, blooming liquid petals
of shimmering blue and green.
Otherwise, it’s dark everywhere
but for the gleaming approval

of the moon, perhaps wondering
if an aurora had fallen from the sky
to become a pond of stars.

© Wallace Fong, April 2023

The ocean can glow and glitter like the stars in the sky thanks to a natural chemical process known as bioluminescence, which allows living things to produce light in their body. Marine creatures like some fish, squid, tiny crustaceans and algae use bioluminescence to confuse predators, attract prey or lure potential mates. When there is plenty of bioluminescence in the water, it is usually due to algae blooms of plankton creating a night-time display of “ocean fireworks”

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