Why has this topic not been journaled yet by Pakistani publishers or journalists. Why! It does not deserve a casual mention.
Few days ago I went on a weekend getaway to a relatively hidden, lesser-visited one kilometer stretch of a beach, at a short distance from Mubarak Village (in Pakistan) called Bhit Khori. It was my first time camping on a beach and I was excited about spending the night under the sky, by the shore, along with my husband, friends and some strangers; sitting by the bonfire eating bbq, playing music and doing nothing else, because of zero internet connection.
The day went by quickly and soon it was time for the sun to set. It was partially cloudy so we couldn’t enjoy a bright orange sunset as we had expected. But here’s the funny thing about expectations; things happen when you don’t expect them. Anyway, we all gathered in front of our camps, stretching on the mats, half of us sitting and half lying down, turning on the music, some lighting up their cigarettes, some putting on their sweater for then there was a slight chill in the air. All the meanwhile sky was getting darker.
And in no time, someone shouted, “omg, look at the beach!”
With no expectation of any kind, we looked at the beach, and our jaws dropped. The ocean was glowing, blue.
Captured by Wajih Ahmed @ Bhit Khori
Not the entire ocean, but the tiny waves as they were crashing at various spots were lighting up in blue. I can say the ocean was twinkling. Under immense awe, we walked up close to the shore for a closer look at what was happening. And soon we figured that if you make a movement in water, like a splash or throw a pebble, it glows then as well. Weeehheee!
It was the BIOLUMINESCENT phenomenon, happening in front of our eyes; which some of us (including me) had heard of and had it in our bucket list, not knowing we’d get to see it happening in our very own homeland, so unplanned. So unexpected.
It felt nothing less than magic. Glow in the dark on the beach, woah. The glow that deepened with time, kept us in wonder. And went on to being a night long show.
It was one of those nature-things you see, not so often, but when you do they make you feel ugly, small and insignificant. Indeed a key moment of my 2018, this was.
What is it?
Bioluminescence in the ocean happens because of a microscopic organism or algae floating in the water, called Plankton. I’m not sure if the word Plankton is the name of a category of organisms or a proper name given to a certain species of algae. This organism is usually found drifting in warm tropical waters. Now when there is movement in the ocean cause by waves, or throwing a pebble or a splash made by feet or a boat, it causes a chemical reaction in planktons and something called ‘luciferen” is released, which basically creates blue light (in short).
Captured by Kumail Hussain @ Gadani Beach
Plankton is a source of food for fish and sea mammals. And it uses this bioluminescence as a way to surprise predators and defend itself. Oh nature!
Capturing It On The Camera
Here is the trickiest part. As much as we were amazed, we were not able to capture it on our phones. The photographer with us was able to capture it in his professional equipment.
Most of the pictures of bioluminescence that you will see here and on the internet, are not the 100% depiction of what our naked eye sees it as. This is because the glow is not constant, it is constantly happening but each particle glows for few seconds, and hence it is captured using the long exposure technique in the camera.
Captured By Saud Siddiqi @ Sapat Beach
But you can hold the glowing sand and particles in it on your finger for few seconds till the glow lasts.
Where else in the world
There is conflicting information on the internet. Initially I knew that Mosquito bay Puerto Rico and only a few other places in the world have bioluminescence beaches or bays because some articles will tell you about only 5 or 6 places in the world. But then there are so many other places where this phenomenon is seen as well including: USA, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Veitnam, Japan, Indonesia, HongKong, Belgium, UK, Australia.
Where else in Pakistan
Bhit Khori is not the first beach where glowing planktons have been seen. In fact people have reported seeing it at the beach at Astola island, Gadani and at Somiani beach.
Captured by Kumail Hussain @ Somiani
“Is this real life? Clearly NO. The feeling when I first saw plankton. I was in search for this bizarre natural phenomenon since long, first ever encounter was at Gadani Beach in 2015.” – Emran Mani
Captured by Emran Mani @ Gadani
But the first time it was probably photographed beautifully was at Sapat beach, back in October when a few travellers from a local community named Khanabadosh camped the night.
“Sapat is just like any other beach. But when the night falls, this particular beach has a lot more to offer than the humid wind, the sound of waves crashing ashore, and the infinity of the horizon. The first time I looked at the bioluminescense of sapat, I was truly captivated by the purity of the sight. The sea glows, opening little windows to the mystery it holds. I could feel a little light pop on inside me just looking at it.” – Muzna Kanwal
Captured by Sohaib Roomi @ Sapat
And if any of you is planning to visit one of the above beaches for witnessing bioluminescence, bear in mind that it does not happen every night. There is no schedule for it. Yes, it is said that if you plan around the ‘new moon’, when there is close to no moon light, the chances are higher. But! When I visited Bhit Khori, it was just few days after the full moon and we still saw it. Our guide, who was there a night before for arrangements, said there was nothing last night and he also added that it is his ninth time camping at Bhit Khori, but he is seeing it for the first time. We were lucky indeed!
Now, I just wish if this article reaches any of the editors in Huff Post, Matador Network, Business Insider, please add Pakistan is in the list too!