Kochi: A beautiful scene in the 2019 Malayalam hit 'Kumbalangi Nights' showcased backwaters sparkling in a fluorescent blue glow. This sequence portrayed the natural phenomenon known as sea sparkle or bioluminescence.
Sea sparkle can be witnessed along the backwaters abutting the sea off Kochi during March-April. As the wind creates ripples on the waters, this natural wonder becomes more visible.
The sea sparkle can be seen in the south-western region of Kumbalangi, Kallanchery, Anjilithara, Attathadam, and Kulakaadavu. More mesmerising images can be spotted in isolated regions.
However, the fisherfolk are not amused by the sea sparkle. When the sea lights up an area of the backwaters, fish move out, resulting in poor catch!
Bioluminescence or sea sparkle is known as 'kavaru' in local parlance. The light emanated by micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae creates this natural phenomenon. It can be compared to light produced by thousands of fireflies simultaneously.
Microorganisms emanate the light to attract mates and escape from predators. Bioluminescence is more often noticed along backwaters closer to the sea. This phenomenon is more pronounced in summer as the salinity and viscosity of the backwaters increases. As the salinity increases, the brightness becomes more pronounced. Bioluminescence is rarely seen during the rainy season.
Last year Chennai residents witnessed bioluminescence from the beaches in the city.