When “Sea Stories” Aren’t…

It took ten years to learn more about that night twenty years ago.

051004_milky_sea_02

The “milk sea” in a composite satellite image, and the region of the ocean where it was spotted. Credit: Steven Miller, NRL

I am referring to the natural world phenomenon of bioluminescence.

Quoting Robert Roy Britt from his October 4, 2005, article titled, ‘Mystery Ocean Glow Confirmed in Satellite Photos‘:

[Excerpt] “The newly released images show a vast region of the Indian Ocean, about the size of Connecticut, glowing three nights in a row. The luminescence was also spotted from a ship in the area. … The event occurred in 1995 and was finally analyzed and reported last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

http://www.livescience.com/9387-mystery-ocean-glow-confirmed-satellite-photos.html

The “ship in the area” mentioned in the ‘Live Science’ article above was reportedly a merchant vessel, but I know that other ships, including those of the U.S. Navy, also witnessed the phenomenon… because I was on one, a Spru-Can, call sign ‘Forerunner’. I was on other tin cans before and after, but what happened this night became the talk of this ship. It was a night no Sailor could forget…

I was on watch in CIC when our lookouts first reported it. I called Radar One for a spot relief then went up to a crammed bridge to see the phenomenon for myself. It was truly amazing… Everyone was awe-struck… There was a giddy buzz from the crew, and yet a sobering hush as well. A bunch of us immediately headed to the weather decks and the fantail to get a closer look. The sea literally had a pulsing-type glow for miles as we moved through it, almost like being on a massively-strobed airport runway. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. It was one of the most spectacular things in the natural world I’ve ever witnessed…

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