Lights in the dark

Life is good in Ny-Ålesund!

The high north is famous for northern lights, something that the first few days in Ny-Ålesund showed us. We were lucky enough to enjoy clear skies, stars and spectacular northern lights ranging from red to green.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights. Photo: Geir Johnsen

Surprisingly this was not the only place we observed stunning lights.

« … When you strike the sea with a rod by night, and the water is seen to shine. » Aristotle 350 BC

If you take a stroll down the pier in Ny-Ålesund in complete darkness, and stirr the water with your hand you will see amazing glowing colors. Life in the sea during the polar night you ask? When you turn back on your headlamp, you can see all the living creatures, including those responsible for the glowing ocean.


Bioluminescence. Photo: Geir Johnsen

The water is so clear that we can actually identify several species of zooplankton. What strikes the eye is heaps of ctenophores (comb jellies). These are also the ones who contribute the most to the northern lights of the sea: bioluminescence.

Text : Eirik Kommedal and Lauris Boissonnot

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