Bioluminescent Phytoplankton in the Persian Gulf and Orion Overhead

January 30, 2019

Biolum_MSH_0581-Pano-1 (1)

Photographer: Mohammad Sadegh Hayati 
Summary Authors: Mohammad Sadegh Hayati; Jim Foster

As shown above, the shoreline of the Persian Gulf is aglow in blue light caused by bioluminescence, while overhead the night sky is ablaze in starlight from the winter constellations of Orion and Canis Major. This photo was taken from the Hormozgan province in southeastern, Iran shortly after nightfall on December 19, 2018 -- the camera is facing east. Bioluminescence results when swarms of dinoflagellates (marine plankton) are distressed by breaking waves, ship wakes or perhaps schools of fish. It's believed that the electric blue light acts to lure prey but also may be a warning to would-be predators.

Note that the bright star at bottom center is Sirius; not only the brightest star in Canis Major but the brightest star in the entire night sky. The glow on the horizon is due to light pollution from city lights.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D750; Software: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 (Windows); Exposure Time: 15.000s; Aperture: ƒ/2.8; ISO equivalent: 10000; Focal Length (35mm): 24; Lens: 24.0-85.0 mm f/2.8-4.0.