A chemical phenomenon called bioluminescence took a section of beachgoers by surprise, as the breathtaking moment of glittering seawater shooting back and forth was no less than magic for those who could grab it.
Bioluminescence is a rare phenomenon in which the ocean can glow and glitter like the stars in the sky thanks to a natural chemical process allowing living things to produce light in their bodies.
A regular beach visitor and a keen observer of sea activities, Dr Sachin Singh, was pleasantly surprised to see some fast-moving glittering objects inside the sea while walking on a beach in Salalah on Friday. He brushed up his memory and knowledge about the sea and realised that the 'glittering thing' doing back and forth like shooting stars was the result of a chemical reaction on the body of some marine species.
He captured the moment in his camera in the form of photos and videos and shared them with the Observer "to let people know about the bioluminescence event in the Oman Sea."
"In so many years in the Sultanate of Oman, I could see this rare phenomenon for the first time. I only have superficial knowledge about sea activities, but it would be interesting for marine researchers to find more details. If they find the event happening in regularity and during a particular season, it can be added as an attractive thing in the tourism calendar and showcased to a large number of visitors who come to the country during the summer and winter seasons," said Dr Sachin.
The real breathtaking moment, according to Dr Sachin, is also known as 'Sea sparkle' and happens due to a chemical reaction in the body of one of the largest species of dinoflagellates in the marine environment and is globally distributed.
"Recently bioluminescent, marine plankton (dinoflagellates) as observed on the beaches of Salalah. Such bioluminescence is quite common in the sea, but it is best seen when the dinoflagellates are disturbed, either by breaking waves or perhaps by passing ships," he said.
Humans can witness this natural phenomenon when there is lots of bioluminescence in the water, usually from an algae bloom of plankton. The bioluminescent sea will glow when it is disturbed by a wave breaking or a splash in the water at night.
Marine creatures like some fish, squid, tiny crustaceans, and algae produce bioluminescence to either confuse predators, attract prey or even lure potential mates.
Photo by Dr Sachin Singh