Saturday 3 December 2016

All-Ireland omen? Local photo captures brilliant blue phosphorescence in Kerry

Starry, starry waters

Published 11/09/2015 | 11:23

Phosphorescence photographed by Vinny Hyland at Derrynane... September and into early October are the best times to witness this phenomenon.
Phosphorescence photographed by Vinny Hyland at Derrynane... September and into early October are the best times to witness this phenomenon.

Bioluminescent plankton have been turning the sea a spectacular shade of blue off Kerry's Skellig Coast.

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Green and gold are the colours we normally associate with the Kingdom in September, but blue has been turning heads in the waters off Derrynane this week.

The above photograph of phosphorescence, a natural phenomenon caused by bioluminescent plankton emitting eerie swathes of light, was captured by local app creator, naturalist and artist Vincent Hyland.

"Conditions were perfect," he told Independent Travel.

"There was a north east wind across Derrynane's long beach, stiff enough to raise the swell and bring crashing waves to the beach front. Waves are needed to 'excite' the plankton, which in turn emit light in their millions."

Could it be an omen ahead of Kerry's All Ireland clash with Dublin on September 20?

Throngs of Dubs in Hill 16 may like to think so, but Kerry may also take inspiration from the plankton lighting up the Skellig Coast.

To capture his photo, Hyland waded into the water and set up his tripod at chest height, waiting for the perfect moment while "plankton stars" washed around his feet.

"I lined it up at midnight," he says. "I wanted the beam of the Bull Rock lighthouse to backlight Two Headed Island. I also wanted to capture the expanse of the bay, Abbey Island on the right and Reenaratha (Lambs Head) on the left."

"Before I pressed down for the shutter to open I waited for the right combination of waves. I counted in my head and like magic everything appeared in front of me.

"What an experience!"

Deserted beaches are a feature of Derrynane in September, Hyland says, though efforts are underway to change that - Destination Kerry, a new tourism initiative aiming to encourage visitors to visit the Kingdom year-round, launched this week.

September and October are the best times to view phosphorescence in the Atlantic, Hyland says. Skellig Kerry, a local group promoting the Skellig Coast region, believes this week's displays will continue to the weekend.

See more of Vincent Hyland's work at facebook.com/derrynane; and you can learn more about Skellig Coast at skelligkerry.com.

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