Thoppumpady: The scene with sparkling blue waters through which Bonnie and his partner Nylah rowed in Kochi's backwaters was among the highlights of the 2019 Malayalam movie ‘Kumbalangi Nights.’ This sequence portrayed the natural phenomenon known as sea sparkle or bioluminescence.
Even four years after the movie’s release, the people who watched the spectacle on the big screen still remember the scene. Referred to as ‘kavaru’ in local parlance, the blue glow has appeared on the backwaters at Kumbalangi in Kochi yet again.
Sea sparkle can be witnessed along the backwaters abutting the sea off Kochi during March-April. As the wind creates ripples on the waters, this natural wonder becomes more visible. The sight is even more alluring on moonlit nights.
The sea sparkle can be seen in the south-western region of Kumbalangi, Kallanchery, Anjilithara, Attathadom, and Kulakkadavu. More mesmerising images can be spotted in isolated regions.
However, the fisherfolk are not amused by the sea sparkle. When the sea lights up an area of the backwaters, fish move out, resulting in poor catch!
The light emanated by micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae creates this natural phenomenon. It can be compared to light produced by thousands of fireflies simultaneously.
Microorganisms emanate the light to attract mates and escape from predators. Bioluminescence is more often noticed along backwaters closer to the sea. This phenomenon is more pronounced in summer as the salinity and viscosity of the backwaters increases. As the salinity increases, the brightness becomes more pronounced. Bioluminescence is rarely seen during the rainy season.
Bioluminescence was spotted in Kumbalangi in 2020 also. Chennai's Thiruvanmiyur Beach also witnessed this amazing natural phenomenon in 2019. Mumbai's Juhu Beach, Lakshadweep's Bangaram Island, Goa's Betalbatim Beach, Karnataka's Mattu-Padukere Beaches, and Andaman's Havelock Island are the other places that have witnessed sea sparkle in the past.