Sentosa waters glow blue from bioluminescent plankton, could signal change in S’pore waters

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A bloom of bioluminescent microorganisms which gathered large crowds to beaches earlier this year has made a return to Singapore waters.

Blue glow spotted off Sentosa Island

A hairstylist who wished to be identified as Alan took a video of the bright blue sparkle on the night of Nov. 22.

On a yacht off Sentosa Island, the motion of the propeller made the water glow intensely.

Video by Alan.

Alan shared the video with Clarence Sim, a PhD student from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) studying Singapore's marine plankton community.

Earlier that day, Sim found a bloom of the same unique dinoflagellates at St. John Island and Raffles Lighthouse as part of his monthly sampling work.

Sim also studies the bioluminescent microorganism responsible for the blue glow, a species of dinoflagellates known as Noctiluca scintillans.

When it senses movement, the dinoflagellate is triggered to emit light.

It is visible to the naked eye and appear green due to the thousands of algae it hosts.

Image by Clarence Sim.

A dying Noctiluca scintillans expelling thousands of symbionts. Video via GEEK Lab.

Sim suggests that the bloom's bioluminescence may be visible for the next few days at Sentosa, East Coast Park and Pasir Ris Park.

Third bloom this year

Federico Lauro, an associate professor who is the principal investigator of NTU's Singapore Laboratory for Integrative Microbial Ecology (

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