IG-Worthy Blue Glow Has Returned to S’pore Waters Again


The magical blue glow is back in Singapore!

No, I’m not talking about Avatar 2, I’m talking about the blue glow of the waters that washed up on our shores months ago. 

You’ve probably seen it around Instagram or TikTok before. If you haven’t, fret not, because you’ll get the chance to see it for yourself again.

Blue Glow Spotted

The blue glow has once again been spotted off Singapore’s southern shores around Sentosa, St John’s Island, and Raffles Lighthouse. 

If you’re totally clueless as to what causes the glow, we’re in the same boat. 

According to Mr Clarence Sim, a PhD student from Nanyang Technological University’s Genomic and Ecology of Eukaryotes Laboratory, the light is emitted by a group of marine micro-organisms called dinoflagellates (Noctiluca scintillan). 

These tiny marine plants produce an enzyme called luciferase, which reacts with oxygen to produce light. 

Essentially, they’re waterproof, oxygen-powered light bulbs. 

Mr Sim is currently conducting a research into Singapore’s marine microbiology, and said that he spotted the wave of bioluminescent plankton during his monthly seawater sampling for his research.

“From the boat, we observed the same dense green blondes dominating the waters (in the morning) and with one quick look, I knew it was the same as the one we had in January and March 2022.

“To be honest, we weren’t really expecting it at all and so it was really a surprise for us,” he said after confirming the identity of the “blobs” in the lab with his team. 

Following the history of the past two blooms earlier this year, this occurrence is likely to last about a week, although there have been no confirmed reports on how long it would last exactly. 

“Certain sea conditions – such as low oxygen levels – can influence the longevity of a Noctiluca bloom and even make it more likely for a bloom to occur,” Mr Sim said. “But due to insufficient monitoring in Singapore, we are unable to draw direct conclusions on how long this bloom will last and when the next bloom will come.”

He also suggested that those who want to see the bloom should head near the southern coast, like beaches off Sentosa.

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The Concern

While the sea glitter has been a delight to see, it’s actually something you should feel blue about.

Mr Sim has said that the frequency of such algal blooms have been “concerning”.


“These blooms are usually quite rare, and over the 2.5 years of my research, this is the first time that I’ve seen it bloom thrice within a single year.”

This may be a sign that Singapore’s waters are changing, which leads to a chain-reaction affecting all marine life here. 


If Noctiluca becomes the dominant plankton in the water, other microbial species which some fish depend on may be crowded out, leading to an overall shift in the balance in Singapore’s marine ecosystem, resulting in effects that are not known yet. 

“Ultimately, more research is needed to determine the exact link between water conditions and the frequency of such blooms,” he added.


Blue or bane?

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Featured Image: RugliG / Shutterstock