Milky seas is a condition on the open ocean where large areas of seawater (up to 6,000 square miles) are filled with bioluminescent bacteria, causing the ocean to uniformly glow an eerie blue at night. The condition has been the stuff of mariner's tales for centuries – notably appearing in chapter 24 of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – but until recently it has not been rigorously documented. There have been 235 documented sightings of milky seas since 1915 - mostly concentrated in the north-western Indian Ocean and near Indonesia.
In 2005, Steven Miller of the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California, was able to match 1995 Satellite images with a first-hand account of a merchant ship. U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program showed the milky area to be approximately 15,400-km² (roughly the size of Connecticut). The luminescent field was observed to glow over three consecutive nights.
While monochromatic photos make this effect appear white, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute scientist Steve Haddock (an author of a milky seas effect study) has commented, "the light produced by the bacteria is actually blue, not white. It is white in the graphic because of the monochromatic sensor we used, and it can appear white to the eye because the rods in our eye (used for night vision) don't discriminate color."
VISUAL ART: There's a Strangeness You Can't Explain and Can't Quite Place ; Tacita Dean Tate St Ives ST IVES
Oct 16, 2005; Given the view from Tate St Ives of pearly sands and milky seas, the temptation to show Tacita Dean's marine works in its winter...