Lake Makes Swimmers Glow in the Dark

Swimmers in an Australian lake get more than wet. They glow in the dark.

The lake's bioluminescence is caused by a microorganism that happened to be in abnormally high supply when 34-year-old photographer Phil Hart snapped some amazing photos.

The swimmers in Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, Australia may look like they are playing with radioactive blue paint. They're not.

The harmless "Noctiluca Scintillans" microorganism lights up when the lake water is disturbed.

To capture the glowing photos, Hart put his camera on a slow shutter speed and threw sand and stones into the lake water.

"To be there watching this bioluminescence is spellbinding and to see it like this is very rare," says the photographer, who works as program director for a company that runs canoeing trips on Gippsland Lakes.

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Hart says recent bushfires and floods have brought extra nutrients for the microorganisms, raising their numbers to unusually high levels.

"Nobody can remember a time when the bioluminescence was as bright as it was on this occasion," he says. "I feel very fortunate to have been there to see it and to have had my camera gear there to record it."

Hart says the bright blue color only showed up in the photos, though the luminescence was obvious to the eye.

"When the first photo I took appeared on screen I could hardly believe it - the people in the water looked freakish," he says. "We stayed up late on several nights and never got tired of playing in the water and taking photos."

Photos, Phil Hart/
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