Hong Kong harbor lights up at night, emitting a vibrant blue color, neither because of the city lights nor any other lighting effect, but because of algae called Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as “Sea Sparkle”.
One can see blue glow on the water when it is disturbed. Some people throw stones to see the blue glow. To get a good photo of the glowing algae, it is better to use long exposure photography.
Despite of its blue hue, this phenomenon is often called red tide.
Noctiluca scintillans is a type of a single cell organism that eats plankton and is eaten by other species. It looks like algae, and acts like algae, but actually it isn’t. These creatures cannot photosynthesize. They sometimes kill algae and sometimes leave it living inside them.
This non-toxic phytoplankton is not considered harmful. It can co-exist with other flora and fauna in the water and poses no danger to humans. However, they can be destructive if their number grows too huge.
Michelle Cheung from Hong Kong’s Eco-education and Resources Center said that the bloom was caused by high pollution in Tolo Harbour, which was aggravated by the slow flow of currents and residential sewage and restaurant waste running directly into the sea. The algae can be deadly, as it deprives the water oxygen, though there is no recorded cases of fish kill in the area yet.
However, the damage done to the environment doesn’t just happen when the oxygen gets depleted during its very short lifespan. When the blooms die, they sink to the bottom of the sea when they decompose, hence consuming huge amounts of oxygen and forming dead zones at the sea. Any living creatures at the bottom of the sea, like fish or crabs, are at risk of dying due to low oxygen level caused by the decomposition of this creature. With this, it is hard for the ocean to recover.
While Hong Kong is the latest place to showcase the so-called beauty of Noctiluca scintillans, it is not the only place in the world with the beautiful but deadly problem. Algae blooms plague the world, with reported cases in different parts of the world making their presence felt in waters where high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen are found, chemicals typical of farm run-off.
How to Prevent and Remove Algae in an Eco-Friendly Way?
Liquid Live Micro Organisms (LLMO) is a live bacterial treatment for water management. LLMO has been widely used in managing lakes and ponds in different parts of the United States, Canada, India, and China. Furthermore, LLMO does not harm the environment. While treating the water with LLMO, it does not pose any danger to other living organisms in the area. The treatment can also be as fast as two weeks. To know more about LLMO and how it works, you can check it here.
Not all the wonders that we see in the world are beautiful; sometimes it can be deadly. It is okay to admire the blue glow from Noctiluca scintillans, but we must also be aware of the ecological imbalance it provides to the marine life.