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The Buzz

Glow-in-the-dark algae lights up Australia

We've seen a number of algae blooms in the past few years, from one at Monee Reservoir, a massive one in Lake Eerie in 2014 and a bloom in Florida last year that was so big it could be seen from space, and now, a unique bioluminescent bloom in Australia is setting the Internet on fire.

This particular one in Port Lincoln was found by Kye Higgins' dog, Miss Millie, during a nighttime walk along the beach.

"It looked like there was glow stick liquid on her legs," Higgins told ABC.

The algae, Noctiluca Scintillans, illuminates when it is disturbed thanks to a natural chemical reaction. The disturbance can be seen in the form of waves, or in this case, a dog splashing through it.

There's also another interesting thing that happens with it. 

"When these algae are eaten by a predator, they glow up, so that predators of their predators can see them," marine ecologist Ivan Nagelkerken told ABC.

While it looks like something out of a science fiction movie and might be fun to play with for some, this algae – commonly known as sea sparkle – can be toxic to marine life due to the accumulation of high levels of ammonia. 

The video below illustrates what happens when the algae is disturbed through human contact, although if you come across an algae bloom, we suggest that you look and don't touch. And if you do touch it by accident, be sure to wash your hands and any other parts of your body that come into contact with it with soap and water.




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