Bioluminescence witnessed on the Karavali coast – Times of India

The beaches along the Karavali coast, including Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, have been witnessing a rare, but dazzling activity over the past week. The waters in the region have been glowing a luminous blue, a phenomenon known as bioluminescence.
“But this is definitely not a healthy sign,” points out professor Vel, dean of College of Fisheries, Mangaluru. Sharing that the phenomenon occurs due to the presence of a variety of algae called the Dinoflaggelate, Vel avers that this kind of activity is in fact harmful for the the water. “And it is usually caused by pollutants like sewage and effluents, rise in temperature and increased turbulence of the water. Whether it’s from ships, intra-state flow of water or marine pollution by other factors, is something that needs to be ascertained. My team is currently conducting research on the same,” shares professor Vel.

Meanwhile, Ashwin Rai, another fisheries expert and marine enthusiast, seconds the fact that bioluminescence does indicate a change of ecology. “It is harmful for the water as it depletes oxygen levels and has a direct impact on marine life, especially fish. This kind of algae is not the preferred fuel of fish and may even cause them to move away from the region. But whether this is a temporary change or a long-lasting effect remains to be seen. If it turns out to be a long-lasting one, then it is a matter of grave concern,” concurs Ashwin.

Locals though, are excited about this unique event along their shoreline. “We have been going to witness the sight every other day post 10 pm. It is surreal to say the least,” says Sumana Pai, a homemaker. Even the huge crowds and surging traffic doesn’t deter Pooja Chirag and her family from going all the way to Padukere to watch this phenomenon. Photographer Varun Shetty was on the beach with his family on the first day that Mangaluru witnessed bioluminescent activity. “I had spotted such luminous waters on a fishing trip a few years ago, off the coast of Mangaluru. But it seems like this is the first time that it’s lasted this long. While the waters do look beautiful, I’m also aware that bioluminescence is not a healthy trend and hope our waters regain their original freshness soon,” Varun sums up.

— Madhu Daithota

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