25 October 2007

Darwin's bioluminescence.

Anyone who has sailed in seas where the plankton phosphoresces will smile at Darwin's sense of wonder on this 24 October entry:
Bahia Blanca to Montevideo
The night was pitch dark, with a fresh breeze. — The sea from its extreme luminousness presented a wonderful & most beautiful appearance; every part of the water, which by day is seen as foam, glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two billows of liquid phosphorus, & in her wake was a milky train. — As far as the eye reached, the crest of every wave was bright; & from the reflected light, the sky just above the horizon was not so utterly dark as the rest of the Heavens. — It was impossible to behold this plain of matter, as it were melted & consuming by heat, without being reminded of Milton's description of the regions of Chaos & Anarchy.
From Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary.

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