Mysterious blue waves on the Costa del Sol

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blue waves

Residents and visitors of Rincón de la Victoria, located east of the city of Malaga, have recently witnessed a remarkable natural phenomenon: glowing blue waves lighting up the night time coastline.

This phenomenon aroused both surprise and admiration. It initially looked like the work of lasers, but turned out to have a natural cause.

The spark of the sea

Carol Goya, a local resident, shared her experience in the newspaper SUR: “While walking along the promenade, my husband suddenly saw light in the water. We initially thought about laser lights, but soon we saw that every breaking wave lit up.” This spectacle is thanks to ‘noctiluca scintillans’, also known as the ‘spark of the sea’. It is a type of zooplankton responsible for creating almost neon blue light.

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A rare phenomenon

According to Juan Antonio López of the Aula del Mar Mediterráneo, this phenomenon does not occur often along the coast of Malaga. However, it can occasionally be seen in other parts of Spain such as Galicia. In Andalucia, red or green waves, also caused by zooplankton, are more common. These events take place during a ‘bloom’. That is a period in which a high concentration of these organisms is present.

The role of weather and agriculture

The fluorescent blue sea water is enhanced by heavy rainfall and wind. These cause a mix of ocean currents and the dragging of organic and inorganic material from the rivers. This provides an abundance of food for the noctilucas, which then reproduce rapidly. However, their short life cycle means that this spectacle quickly disappears.

López also points to the influence of agricultural chemicals, which serve as a food source for these organisms. The enzymes in the noctilucas react with oxygen to produce bioluminescence. This results in the mesmerising blue waves that captivated both locals and social media.

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