Satellite saw the “Milk Sea”

For the first time, the mysterious “milk sea” was first discovered by a satellite in Earth orbit, and then confirmed by the crew of a ship in the ocean. This is an extremely rare phenomenon when the sea glows white for hundreds of kilometers around.

“Milk Sea”

A team led by Steven Miller, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado at Fort Collins, has devoted the last few years to studying satellite images to find evidence of a rare phenomenon known as the “milk sea”. Moreover, they managed to find the crew of the ship, which was sailing through it at that time and filmed it on their phones.

People traveling on the ocean have been telling about the nights when the glow of the color of milk begins in the sea for several centuries. The first official report of this phenomenon dates back to July 27, 1854. Then the captain of the American clipper recorded an eerie feeling when his ship sailed for several hours as if on a snow-covered field.

But this phenomenon turned out to be so rare that even in the era of intensive shipping, sailors reported it only a couple of times a year. Therefore, scientists could not study this phenomenon and it was considered unconfirmed for many decades.

It was only in 1985 that the scientists’ temper smiled. Then the scientific vessel discovered a spot of white light in the Red Sea. The researchers took a sample of water and found that luminescence is caused by billions of bacteria that somehow interact with each other and synchronize the glow. The details of this process remain unknown.

Study of the “milk sea” from satellites

The “milk sea” should not be confused with the glow of plankton in the disturbance of the water behind the ship or a simple change in the color of the ocean. This is a much larger phenomenon in time and space. Theoretically, it should be clearly visible on satellite images. That’s exactly what Steven Miller’s team thought when they began studying images a few years ago in search of this unusual phenomenon. 

But it turned out that the glow is 1000 times weaker than the moonlight reflected from the surface of the water. In addition, it can be easily confused with a cloud or some other atmospheric phenomena. They found the first “milk sea” in the pictures in 2005. But then the image was very fuzzy.

The “milk sea” through various optical systems. Source:

But in 2019, a new article was published in which Miller and his team described several cases of observation of the “milk sea”. In the largest of them, the area of illumination reached the size of Iceland. But there was no independent proof of this phenomenon from the surface of the earth.

But in July 2022, it became known that Naomi McKinnon, who was traveling that night on the Ganesha yacht, not only saw this very phenomenon, but also filmed it on her camera. Finally, the “milk sea” has become a definitively confirmed fact.

According to

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