The Great Bioluminescence of 2009
Starting in late December of 2008 and ending in January of 2009, the shores of the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, Australia were awash in a sea of glowing bioluminescent flagellate protists known as Noctiluca scintillans.
This incredible phenomenon was captured brilliantly by Phil Hart, a specialist in night sky and astrophotography. Phil put together an extensive post outlining the extraordinary events that led to this amazing occurrence, as well as an in-depth explanation about how he took each shot.
I’ve summarized the key events below, but be sure to head to Phil’s site for the full story on this remarkable event.
How did this happen?
- In December of 2006 the huge alpine bushfires in Victoria began. It was one of the most extensive in Australia’s history
- These fires burnt a vast area of the catchment for the Gippsland Lakes
- After the fire subsided an east coast low pressure system dumped more than 100mm of rain over many locations across Gippsland on 27th June 2007
- The result was a 1 in a 100 year flood in the days and weeks that followed [Source]
- The torrential rains flooded the Gippsland Lakes with ash and nitrogen-rich soil from the bushfire
- This led to an outbreak of Synechococcus algae which gave the waters a green tinge
- The Synechococcus levels eventually moderated in the cooler months of 2008, but there was concern that it would return in force the following summer
- The following summer, a new species called Noctiluca scintillans began to prosper, by feeding on the Synechococcus
- And it was them that led to the great bioluminescence captured by Phil Hart
Phil says he has spent the last 20 summers in the Gippsland Lakes and he has never witnessed bioluminescence like he did in late December of 2008 and January of 2009.
Phil Hart – Photographer
Phil Hart has been enjoying and photographing the night sky for nearly twenty years. His award winning photos have been published in books, magazines and popular websites around the world. Phil runs night sky photography workshops with Michaels Camera Store, one of the largest retail camera stores in Australia.
Phil’s newest eBook ‘Shooting Stars: How to Photograph the Moon and Stars with your DSLR‘ is available on his website and will show you how to shoot the moon and the stars with just your digital SLR and a tripod. It will teach you about five key styles of night sky photography and the camera settings required for each:
Night sky scenes (short exposures)
Star trails (long exposures)
Night sky timelapse videos
Check out Phil’s site for more information: http://philhart.com/shooting-stars
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