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Mexican Beach Glows Blue With Bioluminescent Plankton

This rare phenomenon lit up the shoreline of a Mexican beach.

Twitter/ @EdberdMolina

Bioluminescence is a phenomenon that occurs in a number of terrestrial and marine creatures. It causes the animal to glow a fluorescent blue, almost like a glowstick. This remarkable event happens only every few decades. Recently,  bioluminescence took over a Mexican beach in the form of plankton.

This is the first time the plankton has shown up in 60 years.  Some speculate that it returned because of the lack of human activity on the beach due to the quarantine. However, biologist Enrique Ayala Duval disagrees.

According to a source on ladbible.com, Duval explains that the bioluminescence is hypothesized to be “the result of evolution.”

Basically the hypothesis says that during the formation of Earth, the atmosphere had almost no oxygen. Photosynthetic organisms caused an increase in oxygen. Eventually, this oxygen became toxic to the organisms, which causes the bioluminescent reaction. 

The light comes from a biochemical reaction wherein a protein, molecular oxygen, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) react. The molecular oxygen oxidizes the luciferin. That reaction is accelerated by the enzyme luciferase and fueled by the ATP. The byproducts of the reaction? Water and light. Bet you didn’t learn that in Introduction to Biology. 

These plankton are incredibly sensitive to disruption, so it’s best to stay away. Unfortunately, however, at least one person interrupted the spectacle and jumped into the glowing waves. Luckily, the beaches are not busy right now…I guess that’s one good side effect of this virus lock-down.

I highly encourage looking at pictures of bioluminescence. It’s a beautiful mystery of nature, and it happens more often than you’d think. Jellyfish, mushrooms, plankton, insects, and more are bioluminescent.

If you’re looking to read more about the great outdoors, check out this article on the benefits of spending time in nature. 

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