Scientists are using new satellite tech to find glow in the dark milky seas of maritime lore

Source: This post is based on the article “Scientists are using new satellite tech to find glow-in-the-dark milky seas of maritime lore” published in Down to Earth on 27th August 2021.

What is the News?

Scientists are using new satellite technologies to find the reasons for the Milky Seas effect.

About Milky Seas Effect:
  1. Milky seas are also called mareel. It is a luminous phenomenon in the ocean, in which large areas of seawater appear to glow translucently (in varying shades of blue).
  2. Such occurrences glow brightly enough at night to be visible from satellites orbiting Earth.
Reason for the Milky Sea Effect:
  1. Till now, only one research vessel has encountered a milky sea. That crew collected samples and found a strain of luminous bacteria (called Vibrio harveyi) colonizing algae at the water’s surface.
  2. Purpose of the Glow:
    1. Luminous bacteria cause the particles to glow when they colonize.
    2. Researchers also think that the purpose of this glow could be to attract fish that eat them.
      • These bacteria thrive in the guts of fishes, so when their populations get too big for their main food supply, a fish’s stomach makes a great second option. 
      • Example: If you go into a refrigerated fish locker and turn off the light, you may notice that some fish emit a greenish-blue glow – this is bacterial light.

The instrument used for detecting Milky Sea Effect:

  • Day/Night Band: These are new constellations of satellites planned for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They are designed to capture low-light emission sources, under a variety of illuminated conditions.
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