March 13, 2009

The sea’s finest show

THE MIRACLE called phosphorescence is one of the finest shows the sea ever puts on. There are times when the water seems to crackle with light. Your eyes alone don’t seem to do it justice. You long to hear it or taste it—to feel the extraordinary sensations you are witnessing so inadequately.

In a small boat you are very close to the sea, and when it’s putting on a show you can touch those glimmering lights and get tiny sparkles all over your hands and face.

But something even more miraculous happened to us one night in tropical seas. Imagine a thin oval disk about 10 feet long and 5 feet wide lying at an angle, 6 feet under water. As we approached slowly, the whole disk erupted instantaneously in an eerie greenish flash that bounced off our white sails.

Every few minutes, another disk, lying at a different angle, would go off like a strobe light. On calm nights it sometimes took us hours to pass through large fields of these flashing disks. We were near the island of Fernando da Noronha, 200 miles off Brazil, at the time—precisely where Charles Darwin had seen them 148 years before.

He had no definite explanation for them, but we had: Just one of the sea’s ordinary, everyday miracles.

Today’s Thought
How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew!
—Emerson, Letters and Social Aims.

More notices we noticed:
In a non-smoking section:
“If we see smoke we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.”

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