Locals stunned as 'electric blue' phenomenon hits NSW coast

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Incredible images are flooding in of the NSW coastline glowing a vibrant electric blue.

The rare bioluminescent phenomenon has been captured across Sydney’s northern beaches and as far south as Wollongong Harbour in recent days.

A rare bioluminescent phenomenon on the NSW coast. Source: Facebook/Maree clout
Stunning photographs have emerged of a rare bioluminescent phenomenon on the NSW coast. Source: Facebook/Maree clout

Hobby snappers and families have flocked to the beach to get a glimpse of the mysterious and magical natural wonder before it disappears.

Word swiftly spread on social media after photos emerged of strange pink haze floating off Stanwell Park and Coalcliff on Thursday — indicating a very rare event was about to occur somewhere on the coast as soon as darkness fell.

“Looks sort of scummy and then at night time it completely changes,” Chris Duczynski told Yahoo News.

A man with a towel around his shoulders watches the rare bioluminescent phenomenon at Bellambi. Source: Chris Duczynski
A huge crowd gathered at Bellambi on Thursday night to get a glimpse of the natural wonder after word spread on social media. Source: Chris Duczynski

The Wollongong resident and owner of Malibu Media was among hundreds to witness the sparkling light show at Bellambi, south of Sydney, later that night after reading a tip-off about the location on Facebook.

“There was a line of traffic going into Bellambi,” he said.

“It was a party atmosphere, everyone had torches and cameras.

“It was amazing, it looked like electricity through the water. A few guys were heading out on surfboards as I left.”

The last time Chris witnessed a blue tide was 25 years ago at Wombarra when he first moved to Wollongong’s northern suburbs.

“Because it’s so rare, I think that’s why people were all down there,” he said.

“I’ve been wanting to capture it for ages but I always read about it the day after.”

A rare bioluminescent phenomenon on the NSW coast. Source: Wayne Cooke
The rare event has been captured across Sydney's northern beaches and as far south as Wollongong Harbour in recent days. Source: Wayne Cooke

Earlier this week, photographer Jamen Percy described the view over Palm beach as “like a galaxy”.

“I hiked up to the lighthouse to get a higher perspective shot of the shoreline where waves were crashing, but as I got there I saw this sparkling ring in the darker side of the headland,” he posted on his instagram page.

“One of those moments in nature where you are rewarded. I can now say I’m a full blown bioluminescent chaser.”

What is a bioluminescence bloom?

Tiny, floating algae-like species of plankton called Noctiluca are behind the spectacular natural wonder.

They are so minuscule that thousands can fit into a single drop of water.

During the day, they appear as a soft pink haze, known as the “red tide” but at night they are transformed by a chemical reaction powered by energy.

(right) tiny, floating algae-like species of plankton called Noctiluca (left) which appear as pink haze during the day. Source: (right) Facebook/Paul Cullen (left) Facebook/Anissa Mogford-Clancy
A bioluminescence bloom is caused by a tiny, floating algae-like species of plankton called Noctiluca, which appear as pink haze during the day. This blue bottle (right) appears to be covered in the algae. Source: (right) Facebook/Paul Cullen (left) Facebook/Anissa Mogford-Clancy

It’s notoriously hard to predict the best nights to witness a bioluminescence bloom but it’s best observed in total darkness and is more common in the warmer months.

The glow is usually sparked by a wave breaking or a splash in the water.

Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast is one of the best places in Australia to witness the phenomenon.

Last year the sea sparkled with what locals described as one of the “brightest” bioluminescent blooms.

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