Recently locals of Port Lincoln were delighted with a bioluminescent algal bloom, the species that produces this wondrous event is called Noctiluca scintillans or “sea sparkles”.
This event occurs when optimal conditions arise, which includes high nutrient content in the water and warm temperatures.
Marine ecologist and Environment Institute member Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken was interviewed by the ABC and said the illumination was caused by a natural chemical reaction by algae in an anti-predatory tactic.
“When these algae are eaten by a predator they glow up, so that predators of their predators can see them,” he said.
The blooms flourish in waters that are warm, still and nutrient rich, and while they used to be rare they are becoming more common at Australian beaches.
“There are reports from Tasmania, the east coast of Australia and Cairns where this happens more regularly,” Professor Nagelkerken said, “but apparently in South Australia it is pretty unique.”