Marine bioluminescence enhances beautiful nature scenes with its blue glow. And while it has mostly been photographed as a blue light that sways with the waves, it is natural phenomenon that also moves along with the creatures that call the ocean home. A video by Newport Coastal Adventure shows a group of dolphins in bioluminescent water, lighting up the dark ocean as they swim.
First shot in 2020 by photographer Patrick Coyne, the clip begins aboard the whale watching company's boat. Rocking the waters as they sail, bioluminescence marks their path. In a moment, they are joined by a couple of dolphins that, despite swimming below the surface, can clearly be seen by the sailors. Engulfed in a blue glow, the dolphins happily tread water. “We were out for a few hours and on our final stretch back we finally had two dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show,” wrote Coyne on Instagram. “A few minutes later and we were greeted by a few more which was insane. ”
Despite their brightness, dolphins do not themselves glow. This can be noticed when the dolphins jump out of the water. Instead, the credit goes to the microorganisms found in the water. Bioluminescence is a natural chemical process that allows living things to produce light in their body, to either lure prey, confuse predators, or even as a form of communication. As for bioluminescent water, it can be attributed to algae bloom of plankton, aided by calm and warm sea conditions.
For all the beauty of the scene, capturing this phenomenon isn't an easy feat. “For starters the bioluminescence has sweet spots to where it shows up and then fades away so while on the water it’s impossible to just find it,” Coyne explains. “Not only that, but actually finding any type of animal in pitch black is just so ridiculously hard. Conditions have to be absolutely perfect for the bioluminescence to show up and to have an animal swim through it so we can film it.” Ultimately, the effort paid off, as his footage documents a stunning moment where all stars aligned for nature to put on a show.
Photographer Patrick Coyne captured footage of a group of dolphins in bioluminescent water, lighting up the dark ocean as they swim.