Fountainstown Beach: Bioluminescent plankton light up Cork beach

By Barra Best
BBC News NI Weather Presenter

  • Published
Fountainstown BeachImage source, Joleen Cronin
Image caption,
Nature lovers were treated to glowing waters along the coastline of County Cork

"The intensity was incredible, each wave splashing millions of sparkles on to the beach. Wow, wow, wow!"

The words of a nature lover treated to glowing waters along the coastline of County Cork, in the Republic of Ireland.

Bioluminescent plankton lit up the waves at Fountainstown Beach, just south of Cork City this week.

Keen photographer Joleen Cronin, from nearby Crosshaven, went to the beach after seeing a post on social media about the sighting.

Image source, Joleen Cronin
Image caption,
Bioluminescent plankton lit up the waves at Fountainstown Beach

"I was completely mesmerised by the whole thing, it was amazing," she said.

"When you put your feet in the water it would just kind of explode beneath you.

"We went paddle boarding and when the paddle hit the waves, it was like a disco."

Others soon made their way to catch a glimpse of the spectacle late at night after reading the same post online.

"I've swam in it before, but I've never seen it like that," Joleen said.

Image source, Joleen Cronin
Image caption,
Photographer Joleen Cronin went to the beach after seeing a post on social media about the sighting

"I met some local people down there, as well as my brother and his wife.

"Everyone was just giggling and laughing. It was worth leaving the house, even though it was almost midnight."

The area is well known for bioluminescent seas.

"Thirty years ago we started doing night-time kayaking trips" said Jim Kennedy from Atlantic Sea Kayaking.

Image source, Joleen Cronin
Image caption,
The bioluminescence is caused by the dinoflagellate, commonly known as sea sparkle

"We've had magazines come out with us from around the world and Jolene's photos are right up there with them.

"The only time I've seen photos like those taken this week is in the National Geographic."

Jim has kayaked around the world, including in Mexico, but says the bioluminescence on the south west coast is just as good.

"We have good advantages here. Our seas are pristine and we don't have a lot of shipping," he said.

According to Ocean Research and Conservation Ireland, the bioluminescence is caused by the dinoflagellate, single-celled Mesokaryotes, commonly known as sea sparkle.