Magical lights that are making a Welsh beach sparkle at night


Wales has plenty of alluring charm, with its mountains, valleys, castles, beaches and Celtic culture, but it has another string to its bow, something not often found in the UK, but one that has an other-worldly mystique to it.

It’s a phenomenon that has been pulling in the punters to Anglesey (as well as the West Wales coast), but looks more like the sort of thing you’d find in an elven kingdom or fantasy movie.

If you head down to Penmon Point, you’ll find the waters lapping the shore turning a magical, sparkling blue colour and it’s not pixie dust or a UFO beneath the surface, but bioluminescent plankton.

Usually restricted to tropical destinations like Thailand and Jamaica, it is one of the most astonishing sights in nature

Light is dispersed from the plankton when they are agitated, for example by waves. Swimmers and paddlers can also create displays of what some people call “pixie dust” in the water.

Coastal bioluminescence appears during the summer months in Wales and searching out the displays is becoming increasingly common, but you’ll need to be patient and strike it a little lucky.

Photographers who gathered at Penmon Point, on the easternmost tip of Anglesey, were rewarded for some late-night perseverance with stunning images of the eerie phenomenon.

Adam Thomas, Adam Jones and Rhys Caligari were on day three of their nightly vigils when the “sparkles” made an appearance. When they shared the resulting images, awed social media users described them as “magical”.

Mr Jones, from Llanfairfechan, said anyone wanting to see the light displays has to be prepared for disappointment. Last year he set aside two weeks to look for them. “Nothing happened,” he told the Daily Post.

“This summer we got lucky on the third night we were out. I can see Penmon lighthouse from my garden and from there it’s a 40-minute drive. I usually set off about 11pm and stay until 1am-1.30am, or longer if there’s activity.

“This time there is plenty of plankton, but as the seas are so calm, they are slower coming to the shore. And as the surface is so flat, there are few waves to create the luminescence. Luckily there were others on the beach who were throwing stones into the sea to disturb the plankton.”

The plankton seem to favour warm seas and clear, sunny days, with the best displays often seen on darker nights, and Penmon is renowned as one of the best places in Britain to see them.

If they are lucky, the sea glitters a neon blue like the stars in the sky – occasionally greens or even reds are seen, too.

Mr Jones and his photography friends will be returning to Penmon in search of more bioluminescent images. 

“When it pays off, it’s a great relief and a joy to witness nature at its finest,” he said.

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