Tasmania's coastline glows as plankton flash electric blue

Noctiluca scintillans is known as sea sparkle. Credit: Instagram/sarah_the_explorer_76

Stunning images have emerged from Tasmania showing the sea glowing a rare electric blue.

Photographs taken off the island's north coast show the bioluminescent waters caused by noctiluca scintillans or sea sparkle as it is commonly known.

The flashing of sea sparkle is a defence mechanism. Credit: Instagram/sarah_the_explorer_76

When waves or currents disturb the billions of single-celled algae or plant plankton, the tiny cells flash, illuminating the water around them.

It is thought the flashing mechanism is deployed to scare off predators.

Jostling of the tiny cells causes them to flash. Credit: Instagram/sarah_the_explorer_76

While the phenomenon is not harmful to humans, the organisms eat other species, and so if there is a large amount of it, it will eat all the other plankton.

Sea sparkle was first reported in Sydney Harbour in 1860, hundred of miles to the north.

It is thought global warming and warmer oceans has caused sea sparkle to move southwards. Credit: Instagram/sarah_the_explorer_76

However, since the year 2000 it has moved southwards due climate change causing the oceans to become warmer, and also due to currents in the water.

Sea sparkle can also be sighted in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and California.