The Curious Case of the Milky Sea in the Indian Ocean

There is the Milky Way Galaxy in the universe and there is something known as the Milky Sea on the Earth. And just like the cluster of stars comprising the galaxy, the phenomenon of the Milky Sea is unique and intriguing indeed.


The concept of Milky Sea was a mystery that had baffled shipmen and scientists for over 400 years. The Milky Sea is a part of the water in the Indian Ocean that shines and reflects like the sheen on milk, thus giving the phenomenon its name.

The reason behind this phenomenon, as scientists have proved is quite simple. Like fireflies which emit a glow in the dark, the process of Milky Sea is carried out by bacteria called vibrio harveyi which emit this glow to attract fishes so that the bacteria can settle in these fishes’ guts.

And even while Milky Sea is not a phenomenon that is dangerous, the intriguing sheen of the water in the Indian Ocean was something that had everyone confused before scientists could find out the actual reason for the water emitting such a milky sheen. Even, now when one hears the name of Milky Sea for the first time, it brings about a curiosity that everyone wants to solve and find out.

The bacterium is prompted by the scientific process of bioluminescence where creatures emit a natural light of their own. The emitting of the glow is continuous which gives that part of the Ocean the perpetual milky glow and thus its name of Milky Sea. The process is completely natural and does not bear any effect to any other life-forms but since the glow comes out in the part where water-route is regular and ships are a common feature, the glow of the ocean casts a very mysterious aura on the ship and the crewmen alike.

The reasoning behind the Milky Sea is a simple chemical process and with the benefit of technology and modern gadgets, scientists have finally managed to prove why the Milky Sea gives out the particular colour and sheen to the water in the Indian Ocean. The solving of this mystery has come after 400 years since the first ship noticed this peculiarity in the Indian Ocean and has helped ships and its crew to identify the main cause of the Milky Sea phenomenon.

The scientists who have finally identified the phenomenon are Steve Miller, a marine meteorologist based in California and Steve Haddock, a bioluminescence expert based in California too. These two scientists have proved with the help of satellite images and other data what causes the Milky Sea phenomenon and have thus helped solve a perplexing mystery successfully.

In today’s world, where science has helped to find, locate and solve lots of hidden and unsolved items in the Earth, the solving of the Milky Sea phenomenon is yet another example of science leading the way. Just like one used to rely on nature alone to lead the way in the past, in today’s world,  it has become important that one trusts on science and technology along with nature to find out better workable solutions to the advantage of everyone.


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