An amateur NSW astronomer who captured spectacular images and video of bioluminescence at Jervis Bay says beachgoers could barely believe what they were witnessing.
Kiama local David Finlay, 45, was tipped off to the natural phenomenon through a Facebook group and made the trip to the popular holiday spot last Friday night.
He was among up to 60 people to visit the beach that evening and saw the glow of noctiluca scintillans, or sea sparkles, light up the foreshore.
“We were stunned,” Mr Finlay said. “There was this childish excitement the entire night.”
Sea sparkles are a buoyant, single-celled algae or plant plankton which can produce light when they are disturbed.
They are mostly restricted to coastal waters, particularly in the vicinity of river mouths, and can appear at during any time of the year.
Jervis Bay and areas around Hobart in Tasmania are known for the phenomenon, but Mr Finlay said Friday night’s light show was the brightest he had ever seen.
“Imagine having this stuff dripping off your fingers,” he said.
“I dipped my hand in the water at one point and it came out with this blue neon glow on my hand.”
“It was hard to believe.”
Mr Finlay said the sparkles grew brighter as the tide came in, and the phenomenon lasted four to five hours.
Beachgoers began referring to it as their own “bioluminescence party”.
The former industrial chemist said he had friends who plan to travel to Jervis Bay in the hope of catching the same spectacle, but the appearance of the phenomenon depends largely on weather conditions, including the wind.
“This is the real magic in life that people should be looking for,” he said.
“People are starting to realise science is entertainment.”