PHOTOS: Glowing Phytoplankton Turn Tasmania River Into Otherworldly Scene

By By Katy Galimberti, Staff Writer
May 25, 2015, 2:24:22 AM EDT

Glowing phytoplankton created a mesmerizing scene in Tasmania’s River Derwent on Sunday, May 17.

Known as bioluminescent creatures, phytoplankton have similar characteristics to fireflies and can cast their own light.

Most phytoplankton will emit a blue glow, but some can cast shades of red, green or orange.

While the exact reason for the bioluminescent capabilities are not known for individual species, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the light can be used to warn or evade predators, lure or detect prey and for communication purposes.

Photographers James Garlick and Lena Wizz captured the illuminating scene Sunday night on the shoreline of River Derwent. Similar glowing occurrences were reported in the following nights.

Phytoplankton typically use their glowing powers at night as not to waste energy during daylight hours.

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