L. Polyedrum and Glowing Red Tides

Lingulodinium polyedrum is a bioluminescent phytoplankton or more specifically a dinoflagellate. Bioluminescent essentially means it glows. Numerous organisms in nature do this. However, L. polyedrum is special even amongst this group of naturally glowing organisms. That is because Lingulodinium polyedrum forms red tides, more accurately known as algae blooms. These are times when organisms like L. polyedrum are particularly numerous in coastal waters. So, what happens when there is an algae bloom of bioluminescent organisms in warm coastal waters? The waves glow like college students at a rave.

Red tides are not always pleasant to look at and many people would rather not enter the water when microscopic organisms have so visibly taken over. L. polyedrum is much prettier than some red tides and possibly less frightening when it comes to entering the water. However, there may be cause for such concern when it comes to Lingulodinium polyedrum. There is some evidence that these dinoflagellates can be harmful to fish populations and possibly even people. However, a number of people continue to swim and surf despite L. polyedrum algae blooms without any known ill effects. The potential is still there, though.

Whether they are dangerous or not, these organisms certainly create a beautiful show. It is as if lights are turning on in the waves as they begin to crash. It is said that a footprint in the sand will glow when these organisms are present. Therefore, one can walk down the beach agitating them with their feet and making them glow in the sand while watching the light show they put on in the water. There really is nothing like it. It is like a trip to Pandora.

Watch the video below for some great footage of this phenomenon. Sorry for the music, if it is not pleasing to your ears, but these are the best lengthy shots of waves out of the bunch.

Bizarre Stories: The Monster of Glamis

Glamis Castle circa 1880
(photograph in the Public Domain)
The Monster of Glamis is the moniker given to a human, not a monster -- human who may have been dead at infancy. Now, the Monster of Glamis also refers to a ghost that supposedly haunts Glamis Castle in Scotland, the ghost of that very same individual. Whatever it/he really is and whether it/he existed or not, its story takes place in the centuries old castle from whence it name came.

Glamis Castle is situated in Angus, Scotland next to Glamis. The original structure was built in the 1300s. Naturally, several ghost stories have come out of the castle. There is nary a structure that can exist for that long and escape rumors of otherworldly guests. In the case of the Monster of Glamis, the guest was supposedly a resident and member of the aristocratic family that dwelled there.

The Monster of Glamis was born Thomas Bowes-Lyon. Of the existence of this child, there is little doubt. He was the son of Charlotte Grimstead and George Bowes-Lyon and an ancestor of the current Queen of England. The child is recorded as having been born on October 21, 1821 and having died that same day.

According to later accounts, a rumor began not long after the boy's alleged death. The rumor was that the child was horribly deformed. It went even further, claiming that the boy had not died at all. Thomas survived and was locked away in a room for the remainder or his life. There, his deformities kept him from taking on his rightful role as lord of the castle. He was kept in the room at all times, save the darkest nights when he was taken for a walk. Some claims go as far as to say he was fed through the door.

The deformities that led to such familial disgust and abandonment were supposedly weak and small limbs. Thomas is also said to have had a hairy egg-shaped body. Why a hairy Humpty-Dumpty lording over a castle was such a stretch is anyone's guess. He may have also been mentally infirm or his weak limbs were worse than the above description. Whatever the case, he said to have lived and died in the castle. There is no gravestone for the infant or the monster he is said to have become.

Bizarre Plant: Dracunculus vulgaris

Dracunculus vulgaris photo by Peter A. Mansfeld

Dracunculus vulgaris can grow to be more than two feet tall. The spathe that surrounds the spadix blooms to reveal a deep purple flower-like growth. The spadix itself has a yellow, corncob like appearance at the base. The rest is purple and black. After flowering, it produces green berries that ripen in the fall. Dracunculus vulgaris is currently found in various places in the United States, but it is endemic to Europe, particularly the Balkans. 

Dracunculus vulgaris goes by many names, most of which are derived from its appearance. Its other names include Drakondia, snake lily, voodoo lily and dragon arum. The snake and dragon names stem from the black, snakelike appearance of the spadix, which is a long, stalk like projection that comes out of the plant's spathe. The dragon name also stems from finger like shapes on the leaves that have been compared to antlers and dragon claws. 

Dracunculus vulgaris is a plant very similar to one previously featured on That is Bizarre -- Amorphophallus titanum. These two plants have similar structures and identifying features, though Amorphophallus titanum is the larger of the two. The most memorable feature of both plants is an awful stench that they emit when attracting flying insects for pollination. The most common description of this smell is that of rotting dead meat. Nonetheless, Dracunculus vulgaris is a beautiful plant.