I went skinny dipping in the ocean the other night, and it was so amazing to see the phosphorescence!!! As soon as you stir up the water, it actually gives off light, like a sparkley glow stick or something! My whole body was engulfed in this glowing water! Every time I moved my hands, it left a trail behind it for like 2 or three feet! It was so cool!
When I got back home, I looked it up on the net to see exactly what this phenomenon is! If you feel like reading up on it, here it is:
Phosphorescence and Flourescence happens when atoms in the material becomes excited. Atoms can become excited in two ways. The first way for an atom to become excited is by thermal excitation which is where the electrons are heated in some way which causes them to rise to a higher energy level. The second way in which an atom can become excited is by electron collision which is where two electrons collide causing them to rise to a higher energy level. Phosphorescent and fluorescent materials both contain atoms that are easily excited. Phosphorescence and fluorescence differ in the amount of time it takes their excited atoms to return to their normal energy levels. When an atom of a fluorescent material gets excited it returns to its normal energy level immediately. When a phosphorescent material gets excited it can stay at a higher energy level for quite some time. For a long time people wondered what made the sea glow, at first they thought there was chemical phosphorus in the sea because they knew that phosphors burn brightly in water. Later on they found out that there is no burning phosphorus in the ocean. They saw countless numbers of swimming, floating creatures called dinoflagellates that caused a light in the water. Dinoflagellates are only visible with a microscope. When dinoflagellates are gathered together, the glow they produce is highly visible. Dinoflagellates glow when the surface waters are disturbed because more air dissolves in the water, and air is rich with oxygen which is used in the reaction of luciferin and luciferase. Luciferin is a component of luminescent organisms that furnish practically heatless light in undergoing oxidation. Luciferase is an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin. There are also many other types of bioluminescent animals in the ocean including: jellyfish, fish, worms, bacteria, shrimp, squid, and cypridina. Cypridina is a sea creature that resembles a clam and contains luciferin and luciferase that mixes in the water to form a bright blue light, if their bodies are dried they can be stored for long periods of time and still glow when mixed with water. During World War II cypridina powder was used by the Japanese soldiers because it gave off just enough light to read without giving away their positions.