When it comes to bioluminescence, there is one that cannot go unnoticed, the Sea of Stars in the Maldives.
The Sea of Stars is one of the most extraordinary rarities to visit in the Maldives, where nature has unique ways of astounding us through all the senses. From the melodious soundscapes of the forests to the seas covered by tens of thousands of glittering sparkles, each natural site has its own charm. But when it comes to bioluminescence, there is one that cannot go unnoticed, the Sea of Stars.
The Sea of Stars
The Maldives are a group of 1200 islands that are located in the Indian Ocean, characterized by a natural beauty that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The geography of these islands is so peculiar that it has given rise to the beings that make up the ecosystems are very peculiar and in fact, are home to one of the largest bioluminescence refuges on the planet.
Vaadhoo Island is one of the islands of Raa Atoll, Maldives, and is the most visited site to admire the bioluminescence, of the so-called Sea of Stars. During the nights in the Indian Ocean, the beaches of Vaadhoo are flooded with hundreds of thousands of organisms that can convert the chemical reactions in their bodies into a dazzling sea full of electrifying blue flashes.
What causes bioluminescence
The bioluminescence of the Sea of Stars is produced by tiny organisms called dinoflagellates (Lingulodinium polyedrum) that belong to the phytoplankton family. The stress caused by the movement of the tide and the swaying of the waves causes the dinoflagellates to produce light as a defense mechanism similar to that of fireflies.
According to the University of Florida’s Institute of the Environment, bioluminescence is very rare in terrestrial ecosystems but is very common in the deep ocean. Eighty percent of the animals that live between 200 and 1000 meters, known as the twilight zone because it is the region where the sun’s rays are lost, have bioluminescence.
Phytoplankton inhabits more on the surface but is one of the few organisms that can effervesce in luminescence. The light emitted by the millions of phytoplankton, unite in a visual symphony that turns the sea into a cluster of stars in plain sight, hence the name Sea of Stars. The light takes on an electric blue color as each wave breaks on the beach, making the phenomenon of marine bioluminescence one of the most amazing in all of nature.
Although if you are wondering when is the best season to visit the Maldives to admire the Sea of Stars, the truth is that there is no season, it’s all a matter of luck. The fulgurant nature of phytoplankton is unpredictable, but fortunately, there is plenty to do in the surrounding area.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera