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October 4, 2005 5:28 PM Subscribe
Evidence of the "Milky Sea" -- The mysterious ocean glow described by Jules Verne in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and observed by sailors has been confirmed by recent satellite photos. On many occasions over the centuries, mariners have reported witnessing surreal nocturnal displays where the surface of the sea produces an intense, uniform, and sustained glow that extends to the horizon in all directions. Although such emissions cannot be fully reconciled with the known features of any light-emitting organism, these so-called "milky seas" are hypothesized to be manifestations of unusually strong bioluminescence produced by colonies of bacteria in association with a microalgal bloom in the surface waters. Because of their ephemeral nature and the paucity of scientific observations, an explanation of milky seas has remained elusive. Here, we report the first satellite observations of the phenomenon.
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