Llew called me on his way home from the ferry.
“You have to come see this.”
“Just come outside. I’m about a hundred metres down the beachfront, and this is… wow! Oh my god! I’ve never seen anything like this! Get out here – bring the camera.”
I scrambled out the door, expecting something lunar, but the blanket cloud cover meant no stars, and certainly no silvery moon. People were lining up along the promenade, facing the surf, some murmuring quietly among themselves, others pointing and exclaiming. I looked out. At first, nothing, but as I kept walking down toward Llew, something glowed then vanished to my left. I looked again. Suddenly a fluorescent blue ripple shot across the full length of a breaking wave. Lasers? I glanced at the apartments opposite. A trick, surely? Teenagers on a balcony somewhere? But no. I turned to watch the breaking waves, still disbelieving, and one by one, in came the next set, this bolt of electric blue zinging along the shore time after time. Slowly it dawned on me: the light was in the wave, of the wave. I got down to where Llew was standing mesmerised and we gaped at each other.
“What is it?” I said. “I don’t understand how this is happening – what is it?”
“Isn’t it amazing?” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen phosphorescence plenty of times, so have you, but I’ve never seen it breaking in the waves before.”
We gasped as another wave exploded into vivid colour in the dark ocean before us.
“It makes me want to go swimming,” I said. “To get in there with it. Actually, I thought I saw someone…”
“Someone is in there,” Llew said, pointing.
And sure enough, there was a lone surfer in the water just south of us, frolicking in the electric blue, a solitary dancer weaving in and out of the steady bursts of pure light.
Today I’ve learned that what we saw was also visible at Freshwater beach, north of here, and the phenomenon is called “bioluminescence.” Check out a photo of it here and read an explanation for its appearance here.