Recently, a group of MTech students noticed something unusual along the coast of Visakhapatnam which was glowing due to a unique natural phenomenon called bioluminescence.
- What is it? Bioluminescence occurs due to the presence of some marine planktons called dinoflagellates that produce light when the water is disturbed.
- These planktons emit light on the ocean surface at night.
- Bioluminescent is widespread among deep sea animals in general.
- Many marine creatures like sponges, jellyfish, worms, species of fish, anthropods, echinoderms and unicellular alga exhibit bioluminescence to either evade predators, attract prey or during mating.
- In Visakhapanam, this phenomenon is most likely the result of an algal bloom of the dinoflagellate species of noctiluca and ceratium.
- This occurs when the luciferase enzyme reacts with luciferin compound in the presence of oxygen to produce a cold light.
- This is widespread in lagoons and sometimes breakwaters and is particularly visible during warm weather conditions
- The dinoflagellates follow a circadian cycle (24-hour cycle) and as a result this phenomenon occurs during the night which is visible in low light conditions.
- This unique phenomenon has been visible in some other beaches in India including Havelock Island in the Andamans, Thiruvanmiyur beach in Chennai, Mattu beach in Karnataka and Bangaram Island in Lakshadweep.
What are Planktons?
- Plankton are a group of marine and freshwater organisms that drift along ocean currents because they are too small or weak to swim against them.
- Their name comes from the Greek word planktos which means “wandering.”
- The range in size from 2 micrometers to more than 20 centimeters.
- There are two types of plankton: phytoplankton, which are tiny plants, and zooplankton, which are tiny animals.
Q1) What are Echinoderms?
Echinoderms are a diverse group of marine animals that include starfish sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, and brittle stars. They are characterized by their radial symmetry, which means their body parts are arranged around a central axis.