Recently, photographer Patrick Coyne released a mesmerising video of a pod of dolphins dancing and surfing through waves of bioluminescent plankton. He captured these videos off Newport Beach, California.
What is bioluminescence?
Some species produce their own light by using chemicals in their bodies. This is called bioluminescence. They produce a chemical called luciferin that when released, interacts with oxygen and produces light. Sometimes they also produce an enzyme called luciferase that catalyzes and speeds up the reaction. It’s the same thing you see in fireflies at night. Fireflies, for example, make light in their abdomens.
How do they use this light?
These animals use this light as a flashlight to see, to help other members of the same species find them in the dark, or to attract animals they plan to eat. Sometimes they use this as a defense mechanism when they are being attacked. They flashlight like a burglar alarm to scare the attacker!
Why are the dolphins in the video glowing?
As Science Alert explained, getting footage like this is amazingly unique. The glowing outline of the dolphins is caused by microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates. These marine creatures are members of the plankton family. They also happen to be very sensitive to touch. When jabbed or touched, each cell “emits a flash of light lasting up to 100 milliseconds, almost like a burglar alarm. If there’s a whole bunch of algae concentrated together, as Coyne’s video shows, a flip of the fin can lead to quite the show.”
This means that when the dolphins swim through waters containing these organisms and frighten them, they release light energy. These excitations follow each movement, highlighting the dolphin’s passage through the water. (Source: Science Alert)
Isn’t that cool?!
Read the photographers story here:
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•Dolphins Swimming in Bioluminescence• Last night was truly one of the most magical nights of my life. Capt. Ryan @lawofthelandnsea of @newportcoastaladventure invited me along to capture rare video of Dolphins swimming in bioluminescence. The first time I saw this actually filmed was a few months back while watching a Night on Earth documentary on Netflix. The second I saw that footage it became a dream of mine to one day capture something similar and that’s exactly what we did. This was by far the most challenging video I’ve shot for a number of reason. For starters the bioluminescence has sweet spots to where it shows up and then fades away so while on the water it’s impossible to just find it. Not only that but actually finding any type of animal in pitch black is just so ridiculously hard. Conditions have to be absolutely perfect for the bioluminescence to show up and to have an animal swim through it so we can film it. On top of all that just trying to nail the focus at such a wide aperture with something moving in the water was a nightmare. We were out for a few hours and on our final stretch back we finally had 2 Dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show. A few minutes later and we were greeted by a few more which was insane. I’m honestly still processing this all and I can’t thank @newportcoastaladventure enough for having me out because without them none of this would be possible. Be sure to check our their edit from last night as well! I hope you all enjoy this video. ——————————————————————————— Shot on a Sony a7Sii with a Rokinon 35mm Cine DS T1.5 Len. Shutter speed: 1/50 Aperture T2 ISO 80,000