continued from previous
Jonathan began to cut speed as the boat entered the outer boundaries of the new mutant zone. This was an area in the ocean he knew well by now. But it had changed dramatically almost overnight. The ocean was slowly but steadily glowing brighter and brighter against the fading sunset, as he got closer to the coordinates marked on the map in front of him. 10 minutes into the zone, and Jonathan couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. The sea was beginning to look like an azure, lit-up hotel pool at night. There were pockets here and there that seemed to glow brighter, almost as if there were electric light sources underneath – but other than that, the phenomenon was pretty much uniform across the ocean. The bioluminescent activity spread as far as the eye could see, reaching well into the horizon. It was a bright blue endless pool against a clear, star-lit sky.
He turned the engine off and got out on the deck. Looking like he had just seen the ocean for the first time in his life, he leaned over the edge of the ship, the blue light from below dancing on his face. A white smile broke out as he stared into the water. He lifted his torso, turning his head around to scan the horizon. He was all alone in an endless, bioluminescent wonderland in the middle of the ocean. This might as well be a dream or a scene from a children’s fairy tale, he thought. The slight breeze on his face was enough to assure him that this was all real. This was the first blue ocean that any human on Earth had seen in the past 8 months. He spent a few moments on the deck cherishing this thought, basking in the soft blue light that was coming from below. Could this be the beginning of the ocean going back to normal? He looked at the seductive, blue water and stopped himself short of diving in. The new mutant may be toxic.
“All this energy” he thought. “Where does it come from?” He lowered one of the robotic arms down to the water to bring back a sample of just a few millilitres of ocean. Blue flashes of light spread through the water like lightning as the arm made a splash: movement seemed to trigger the bioluminescence. Jonathan brought the test tube close to eye level. It was glowing very faintly. He could occasionally see, even with his naked eye, tiny specs of glittering stardust dancing in suspension. It was a new, intensely bioluminescent lifeform.
“At least I can put my hand in the water”, he thought. “It won’t hurt”. He leaned his body down the side stairs of the boat as he put Olivia and John on a live camera chat.
“Hello!” – he said with a smile to the camera as he gave a quick 360 view of the ocean around him.
“Wow!” – Olivia and John exclaimed simultaneously, their faces looking speechless. Jonathan lowered his hand into the water, his face quickly changing expression.
“It’s cold!” he said with surprise. Taking a moment to think, he spoke into the camera: “Let me check something.”
He wiped his hand clean and ran back into the helm to check his instruments. The temperature of the water had dropped by 3 degrees since he had entered the mutant zone. It was much cooler than the surrounding air too.
“This…this mutant zone is cooler than the surrounding ocean” – he said to Olivia and John hesitantly.
“I see” – said John. “Is this possibly a result of the bioluminescent variant itself? I mean, all this light that we see is energy, being largely reflected out into the air above, this way potentially cooling the ocean. In fact, cooling the entire planet. If the variant spreads across the Earth, essentially the planet’s oceans will be radiating back into space vast amounts of energy during the night, in the form of light wavelengths”
“So wait..” – Jonathan said. “This could be Earth’s own attempt to cool itself?”
John continued: “If the variant isn’t toxic to other lifeforms, the cooling of the ocean even by a degree or two could be of tremendous benefit to the species that have survived the extinction. This little critter could have the potential of terraforming, or I guess I should say mareforming, the planet’s oceans back to cooler times. Cyanobacteria growing in the ocean brought us oxygen 2.8 billion years ago. This mutant may be Earth’s brand new air-conditioning system. Never underestimate the power of microorganisms”
(from the upcoming novel A New Earth)
to read from the beginning, go here
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books