Sea of Stars, Maldives
Bioluminescence is a phenomenon that can be found around the world but one of the most dazzling examples is off the coast of Vaadhoo Island. The stunning vista of the Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island makes this destination a romantic sight for couples to enjoy. Those who visit at night can witness the waters glow an eerie blue. What causes this phenomenon? A species of phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates. When they are exposed to oxygen, their internal pH is altered, causing a chain of chemical reactions that produce their signature luminescence.
Interestingly, scientists posit that this evolved as a defense mechanism, branding any animals who consumed them with a glow, thereby making them more obvious to other predators.
Volcanic Lightning, Japan
© Martin Rietze
Volcanic lightning, the researchers hypothesize, is the result of charge-separation. As positively charged ejecta makes its way skyward, regions of opposite but separated electrical charges take shape. A lightning bolt is nature’s way of balancing the charge distribution. The same thing is thought to happen in regular-old thunderstorms. Smaller eruptions tend to be accompanied by more diminutive storms, which can be difficult to spot through thick clouds of ash. What’s more, lightning activity is highest during the beginning stages of an eruption, making it all the more challenging to capture on film.
Kawah Ijen Lake, Indonesia
Travellers flock to the Indonesian island of Java to see the magnificent Kawah Ijen volcano – but what they don’t expect to find is the stunning turquoise-hued caldera lake at the volcano’s summit. To add to the drama, bright, citrine-coloured stones and billows of white gasses surround the 1km-wide aquamarine lake in a spectacular show.
One element is responsible for the entire, striking scene: sulphur. The magma chamber below the volcano pours sulphuric gases into the lake. Combined with a high concentration of dissolved metals, the gases turn the water a brilliant shade of blue. They also render the Ijen crater-lake the world’s largest highly acidic lake with a pH of 0.5.
Danxia Landforms, China
© MelindaChan / Flickr
Danxia landforms are rock landscapes found in the southeast, southwest, and northwest of China. The rocks where rainbows sleep. This collision of colours is the result of over 24 million years of mineral deposits settling down over the red sandstone of the mountain range. The seamless stripes that coat the terrain give the impression that the land itself has been graffitied over with chalk. This vibrant landscape gives backpackers a unique hiking experience to add to their travelling memoirs, including sights of naturally formed rock towers, waterfalls and ravines.
Rainbow Eucalyptus, Philippines and Indonesia
© Danita Delimont / Getty Images
Hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia, the rainbow eucalyptus, also known as the rainbow gum, is probably the most colorful tree on Earth. Its striped look is caused by bark turning colors and peeling away as it ages. The youngest bark is bright green because it contains chlorophyll (usually found in leaves), then turns first purple then red then brown as it gets older, loses chlorophyll, and picks up tannins (also found in wine). In an ironic twist, huge amounts of rainbow eucalyptus wood pulp is turned into white paper every year.
Blood Rain, India
There have been numerous reportings of blood red rain falling from the sky, but the 2001 spotting in Kerala, India may be one of the most well known. The red rainfall was not an extraterrestrial intervention, as many believed then, instead it was caused by the presence of spores in the air and red algae coming from the ocean.
Pamukkale Travertine, Turkey
© Kaspars Grinvalds / 123rf
Worldly famous Pamukkale, also called ‘cotton castle’, is located at the southern banks of the Hierapolis Ancient City in Turkey. Since thousand of years, the water got colder and solid as it got farer from the calcareous hot water source and formed the travertine terraces in the shape of floors and steps. There is “radon gas” in Pamukkale Travertine and this gas has a relaxing effect for people. Besides being a unique natural phenomenon, Pamukkale Travertine can be used for healing purposes as hot springs. Pamukkale and Hierapolis together are both recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1988.
Naga Fireballs, Mekong River
We regret the poor photo quality. Witnesses of these mysterious lights often compare them to fireballs, thus the common name. They remain a highly localized phenomenon with people spotting them only along the Mekong River. Also, they have only been reported along a specific 155 mi (250 km) section of the river. While they appear throughout the year, more occur during the full moon in late autumn, than any other night. This fact merely makes for yet another mystery.
These so-called fireballs actually appear to rise from the water. The reason remains unknown (hence the mystery). Though they rise to heights of as much as 985 ft (300 m), they disappear rapidly and typically glow with a primarily reddish or orange color. They also vary in apparent size from a mere speck to the approximate size of a basketball. Furthermore, sometimes only a handful appear, while on other occasions thousands may be seen in a single night. Some propose that flammable phosphine gas from the swamps may explain these fireballs. Yet such would neither ignite spontaneously nor remain burning long enough to rise high above the river. The mystery therefore continues!
Lenticular Clouds, Japan
Lenticular clouds, technically known as altocumulus standing lenticularis, are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned at right-angles to the wind direction. Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form, creating a formation known as a wave cloud. Lenticular clouds have been mistaken for UFOs (or “visual cover” for UFOs) because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape. Lenticular Clouds can be found anywhere on Earth, provided the conditions are right for its formation.