Bioluminescence in the Gippsland Lakes

Noctiluca scintillans doing what it does best in the Gippsland Lakes, a small chain of inland lakes in Victoria, Australia.

The events that transpired to make this happen are quite miraculous; firstly there was widespread fires in Victoria that burned pretty intensely for quite some time. Then, they were followed by intense flooding that inundated many areas of Gippsland amongst others. The basic effect was that floodwaters carried nutrient-rich soil and ash from the higher reaches into the Gippsland basin, leading to a eutrophic condition in which algae and bacteria can thrive.

This gave rise to a particularly prolific cyanobacteria getting a foothold, Synechococcus. Essentiallysmothering the lake in cellular life, it gave an opportunity for some pretty special creatures to breed prolifically given an abundant food source – Noctiluca scintillans, a bioluminescent Dinoflagellate.

And so, you end up with photographs like this. A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, captured for all to share.

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