Bioluminescence. It might be something with which you’re familiar — maybe from a boat trip to Indo or the tropical Pacific, when you’ve wandered outside at night and seen the sparkling light trails off the bow, and surfacing dolphins setting the sea aglow.
But it’s another matter when you wander down to your local beach under a full moon, and the building swell is lit up like an electric blue bonfire.
The cause: masses of tiny living creatures in the surface layer, whose movement triggers a light-emitting chemical reaction.
If you’re there, though, you don’t think “chemical reaction”, you think “whoa, magic!”
That’s what happened to the Narrabeen crew last week. Let’s allow photographer Matt Dunbar to take up the story. “Pretty classic night,” he wrote to us. “I’m a bit delirious… I walked in the door at 2am.”
Matt was playing board-games with his family near the city, in what sounds like one of those long delayed post Covid family get-togethers. Then he heard about the Light. “An hour later we were speeding to the beach, pulling on wet wetsuits with boards and cameras in hand. One of the guys literally walked out of the pub, grabbed a board and wettie and came for a paddle.
“The algae lights up with movement so while you’re swimming, you look down and your hands are lighting up blue with every paddle.”