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Australian Lake Glows in Dark, Swimmers Turn Blue

The micro-organism Noctiluca Scintillans on full display
Phil Hart
The micro-organism Noctiluca Scintillan on full display.
Phil Hart

It's called bioluminescence, a phenomenon found in nature where micro-organisms will start to glow after a disturbance in the water. For photographer Phil Hart and his pals, vacationing along the shores of Australia's Gippsland Lakes, it also offered an opportunity to give unusual meaning to the term, "blue man group."

Phil Hart

These photos, taken in 2009 at Gippsland Lakes, have been making the rounds of the Internet and they are stunning. Following heavy rains, cooler temperature and a growth in the amount of algae, Hart writes that a growing population of Noctiluca Scintillans became visible during the day as "murky red patches. Come evening, though, it was a different story. Hart, who had regularly visited the region for the previous 16 summers and seen the phenomenon, noted that luminescence in the lakes was "never remotely as bright as it was in the summer of 2008/09." For any camera buffs out there, Hart said he shot his Canon 20D Digital SLR with a 10-22mm lens with a wide open setting at f3.5 and an ISO1600.

Phil Hart

Hart found that the masses of Noctiluca Scintillan created a "remarkable form of bioluminescence "in the waves breaking on the shore, in ripples in the water and wherever people played in the water."  We agree.

You can check out the rest of Hart's gallery here.