Confinement causes greater bioluminescence on Mexican coasts

The decline in human activities due to the confinement has led to the recovery of nature and its expression in phenomena like bioluminescence, which has been observed along the Mexican coast in recent weeks, said David Uriel Hernández Becerril, a researcher at UNAM's Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology (ICML).

"There is no record of the periodicity or places where bioluminescence occurs, but the minimal presence of human activity or lack thereof has made it possible for it to disperse to areas where it was rarely seen before, such as several coasts of Mexico," he said.

As a result of changes in environmental conditions, microscopic marine organisms called dinoflagellates have proliferated and produced this phenomenon.

Bioluminescence occurs because some bacteria, fungi, unicellular protists, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, fish, and jellyfish have the ability to emit light by directly converting chemical energy into light energy, explained the university professor.

A brief respite from nature

It is sad that the health emergency has shown that human activities such as tourism limit the distribution of species on the planet. "What governments have not been able to do to give the planet a brief respite, a small microorganism did," he said.

Tourism, although it generates economic resources and detonates development, inhibits the growth of marine communities because it contaminates the water, air, and soil, he said.

According to Hernández Becerril, there is knowledge about marine biodiversity, but much remains to be explored. "The role played by microorganisms in that environment is very important, but unfortunately they are threatened by environmental degradation, global warming, and ocean acidification.

The scientist explained that as a result of the Himalayan thaws there has been a change in the structure of the phytoplankton community in the Arabian Sea, which favors the proliferation of certain dinoflagellates that produce red tides and bioluminescence, such as Noctiluca scintillans. Furthermore, "due to changes in the climate, it is believed that this year there is a presence of La Niña, which has led to changes in the structure of the phytoplankton and favored red tides in the North Pacific.

Finally, he stressed that these phenomena and the sighting of wild animals after quarantine should be an incentive to be aware of the importance of biodiversity, cultural, and natural heritage. "It is likely that these days environmental pollution will continue to decrease and more animals will appear in cities; it is time to reflect on what we are doing wrong".

By Mexicanist