The fascinating blue glow caused by the marine microorganism attracts by its enigmatic and spectacular beauty, but also evidence that the water off the coast of Hong Kong can suffer the devastating effects of agricultural pollution, reports AP. Chemicals (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) dumped into the water cause a large increase in the phytoplankton on which ‘Noctiluca scintillans’ feeds, whose population increases under these favorable conditions.
Unlike other similar organisms, ‘Noctiluca’ does not produce chemicals that attack the nervous system or parts of the body of other organisms. However, recent studies show that the 'sea ghost' can accumulate toxins (high levels of ammonia) by feeding on algae. As it is one of the links in the food chain, ‘Noctiluca’ transmits considerable amounts of this poison to other organisms that eat it.
In addition, 'the spark of the sea' excretes the toxins in the water of the surrounding area, which causes the death of other organisms. According to oceanographer Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia (USA), this environmental problem is not exclusive to the Hong Kong coast, but the sources of the ‘spark of the sea’ are growing all over the world.