STORY BEHIND THE IMPRESSION
more music you can listen to as you read on with my blog. this is another favorite song of mine, one most people might have never heard before, "waves" by blondfire ... this song is very poignant to this image, as well as very soothing at the same time and easy on the ears as you read along...
"you hear them when you try to fall asleep. they crash to the shore, they come from the deep. as sure as the sun will rise, the sun will set. you taste the salt the closer you get...waves, picking you up, pushing you down, they're always around. waves, just like dream, silver and green, we live in between...they can carry you all the way to me. they can pull you out to the deep blue sea. oh waves, there are waves...empires will crumble to the sand. all that you love can slip through your hand. but you must face the ocean once again, follow the tides, wherever you've been...waves, picking you up, pushing you down, they're always around. waves, just like dream, silver and green, we live in between...they can carry you all the way to me. they can pull you out to the deep blue sea. oh waves, there are waves... ...waves, picking you up, pushing you down, they're always around. waves, just like dream, silver and green, we live in between...they can carry you all the way to me. they can pull you out to the deep blue sea. oh waves, there are waves" ― blondfire, waves
"now, even when i am not paying attention, invisible waves continue to fill me with her color, music, and love" ― bodhinku, invisible waves
this is wharariki beach (pronounced far-ah-ree-key) under the north-facing part of the milky way, with the two brightest stars in the entire sky, sirius (1st) and canopus (2nd), being seen in the image as well...also present are the bright stars of rigel and betelgeuse in the prominent constellation of orion the hunter. but with this being in the southern hemisphere on the south island of new zealand, orion is positioned upside down pointing towards the ocean and the archway islands in the image...very cool also is the pleiades star cluster, as well as the constellations of taurus (lookers left of orion) and gemini (just below orion's head)...
interesting note, sirius is currently the brightest star in the sky because its luminosity combined with its distance from earth...however, just 500,000 years ago, sirius was not the brightest star in our planet's sky, that honor belonged to canopus...and in about 100,000 years from now, sirius will again be moving far enough away from earth to once again relinquish its top status and become the second brightest star in the night sky to canopus once again...
back to the impression here before you...the stars and milky way are sparkling and gorgeous, seemingly casting stardust down onto the ocean water below...however, what truly makes this image so special and my experience here the coolest is not the stars in the sky above this picturesque beach, but instead the bio-luminescent plankton in the ocean water making the waves glow bright blue at night with the crash of each wave...a veritable erupting fireworks show, and one of mother nature's most beautiful happenings to watch...
when i booked this trip to new zealand, i centered the dates around planning for the possibility of seeing glowing phytoplankton (a.k.a. bio-luminescent plankton) at wharariki beach...the first night was crazy windy (relentless sand-blasting winds), so it did not happen. but on the second night, when the winds subsided, i was blessed to see such a magical display by nature with my own eyes...but my image here truly does not do justice for the beauty that my eyes truly got to witness...
just imagine the natural magic of glowing waves… it almost seems like an optical illusion. the surreal phosphorescent world of the movie avatar is actually not that far from reality. bio-luminescent plankton can create similarly astonishing scenes. dubbed as "tears of the ocean" or "sea of stars", the neon-glowing waves can be seen around the world, however, only exclusively at night.
add this fascinating phenomenon to the already fascinating sea stacks, islands, rock formations, seal colony, sea life, tide pools, caves, arches, endless sand dunes, long flat glassy beach (when wet), and phenomenal sunrises, sunsets, and stars...plus the fact there are so few people around (and the beach is huge), this is one of those really cool beaches to just visit, explore, soak in the mystique, and hang out. it is extremely spectacular, and i have yet to see any photos that do its breathtaking beauty justice, including my own....
only caution here is the fact that once the sun goes down, or if you are hiking in the dark as i do, you need to exit the beach via and across the sand dunes, do not get lost, as it is easy to do when in the bottoms of the dunes, and with the wind, most footprints will be erased already...and there is a light beacon at the southern end of the dunes at the tree line to help, but if you find the beacon, you badly walked well beyond by at least 1km and missed the spot off the sand dunes onto the trail exiting back to the carpark at the cafe...so, use your navigational skills to ensure you safely find your way without extra hassles and dangers...
wharaiki beach is truly an amazing world destination, i am lucky to have walked this beach four days and four nights in my life, and continually have its mystical memories in my mind anytime i want to recall it...
and right now, i cannot wait to be able to get back out into nature and feel this calm connection to the universe again, one that is so very difficult to discover right now while hiking on paths of concrete alongside noisy cars, with their bright lights underneath even brighter street lamps overhead, with only surrounding views of planted trees and sculpted landscapes among buildings and pavement...
"why i do what i do
waves carried me so far from you
making us both so blue
because love i adore
waves will bring me home to this shore
always forever more
no love's like yours
dreamy waves on lonely shores
pour forth from my pores" ― bodhinku, "waves" (a triple haiku)
one of the of the most spectacular sights on a starry night walk on the beach or during a night dive in the ocean is to witness the hundreds of tiny star-like bioluminescent phytoplankton scintillating like a starry sky as you move through the dark water. towards the end of a dive, just shield your underwater flashlight and wave your hands through the water in front of you, and be mesmerized by the tiny glowing specs of plankton. so what kind of plankton are these? and how do they emit that bluish glow that you see in my impression of the glowing blue plankton in the waves?
certain creatures both on land and sea can produce light through chemical reactions taking place within their bodies known as bioluminescence. the bioluminescence results from a light-producing chemical reaction also called chemiluminescence. certain types of chemicals when mixed together produce energy which "excites" other particles on vibration and generate light which causes the glow. the group of chemicals involved to make plankton glow are broadly termed luciferins and the light is produced by a series of oxidation reactions set off by a catalyst called luciferase. the bioluminescence in plankton is very high in several forms of plankton and is a form of cold light or luminescence.
plankton consists of any drifting organism (plant or animal) that inhabit the oceans and provide a vital source of food to larger aquatic organisms such as fish. a vast range of plankton, both zoo plankton and single-celled animal plankton are known to be bioluminescent. bioluminescent phytoplankton occur in all the world’s oceans. the most common of these are dinoflagellates which are tiny unicellular marine plankton also known as fire plants.
dinoflagellates are the most common source of bioluminescence in our oceans and the chances are the sparks–not quite as bright as those made by high performance spark plugs for your car, but still bright–stirring up in waves crashing, or flying off your oar, or the bow or wake of your boat are billions of tiny dinoflagellates or copeopods. These creatures get their name by their ability to swim by two flagella, which are movable protein strands attached to their bodies.
bioluminescence is used to evade predators and acts as a defense mechanism in dinoflagellates. dinoflagelletes produce light when disturbed and will give a light flash lasting a fraction of a second. the flash is meant to attract a predator to the creature disturbing or trying to consume the dinoflagellate. the light flash also surprises the predator causing it to worry about other predators attacking it, making the predator less likely to prey on the dinoflagellate.
"i believe the night i’ve never met
hides one elusive star i need
to divide me between darkness and light"― munia khan
HISTORY OF THE WHARARIKI BEACH
"the light we see from the stars took millions of years to reach our eyes, so when we are looking at the stars, it is like looking back into time, so far far away. the night sky is a time machine where magic happens in the form of eternity, and truly nothing ever dies...now, imagine if love was just like this starlight..." ― bodhinku, whar far away
wharariki beach is a beach slightly west of cape farewell, the northernmost point of the south island of new zealand. this north-facing sandy beach is accessible only via a 20-minute walking track from the end of wharariki road. the road end is approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the nearest settlement, the small village of puponga. a campground is located along wharariki road, but the area surrounding the beach is devoid of any development. wharariki beach is bordered by puponga farm park, with the wider area more or less surrounded by the northern end of kahurangi national park.
the beach is flanked to the east and west by cliffs, but due to the flat topography of the area behind it, the beach area and the grassy dunes behind it are quite exposed to winds...
wharariki beach is perhaps best known for the archway islands, featured frequently in photos in new zealand landscape calendars. it is also the default lock screen image and one of desktop wallpapers on microsoft's windows 10 operating system. the archway islands are a group of four rock stacks or small islands, with even the largest one of them measuring only about 300 by 200 meters (980 by 660 ft).
the largest of the islands is closest to the mainland and adjoins wharariki Beach; it is generally not cut off by the sea. the second island lies about 150 meters (490 ft) offshore and is relatively flat and vegetated. the remaining two islands are typical rock stacks, with the larger one 66 meters (217 ft) tall and containing two natural rock arches, giving rise to the naming of the group of islands...
this place is a screensaver classic: a long, open beach where blue sea foams white onto sparkling sand, framed by sculpted cliffs with, as its focal point, a set of pierced islands.
although word is getting out, often there's no-one else to be seen here, unless you count the colony of fur seals playing in the rock pools. wharariki beach, at the northernmost tip of the south island's coast, is famously remote, rugged and spectacular, and even more special for not being always accessible.
a half-hour drive from the small town of collingwood takes you to the car park by the campsite. from there it's a brisk twenty-minute walk across sheep pastures and farmland, through bush, and a grove of coastal trees, and then over ridged sand dunes to get to the sea. here, you'll find a wide expanse of fine white sand full of golden sparkles, and not one footprint. that's as much because of the almost-constant wind as the remoteness: the sand is always on the move, and can even sting a bit on bare skin on a gusty day.
first, you'll notice the unimaginatively named archway islands and the rock stacks, close to the beach and sculpted by the restless sea into satisfyingly artistic shapes. then you'll look closer, and find fur seals...baby ones, in late summer found playing in the rock pools. and maybe you'll be lucky and even espy a leopard seal snoozing in a shady cave. look closer still, and you'll see the sandstone cliffs are layered with conglomerations of rounded pebbles, some of them marble.
the wind has been hard at work here as a sculptor too: behind the beach are matted thickets of bent and stunted manuka and grasses, forming permanent waves of vegetation. everywhere you look there is a natural glory to admire, and interact with: paddling in the stream and rock pools, poking into the sea caves, making driftwood sculptures, running and jumping down the huge dunes. even if you're not alone, the beach is big enough for everyone to have their space.
always at visit at low tide. keep an eye on the tide...you don't want to be caught out, getting trapped at the end. and don't even think about swimming here: the waves are fierce and the rip currents are powerful. visit earlier in the morning or later in the evening, as sunsets and sunrises can both each be magnificent...and the view of the stars on a cloudless night is nothing short of spectacular. of course too, if it's exfoliation you're after, be sure to visit on a windy day...
"it is truly all about you, do what is best for yourself, that which you know as real truth in your own heart, and you will truly help out everyone around you, everyone else in this world will benefit from your own selfish decision to believe in yourself..." ― bodhinku, be selfish
"there in the starlight are my highest aspirations. i may not reach them, but i can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead” ― louisa may alcott, the abbot's ghost
"behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet earth....now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the milky way. so for every man who has ever lived, in this universe there shines a star....but every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the sun. and many--perhaps most--of those alien suns have planets circling them. so almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven--or hell....how many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than mars or venus, those still remote goals of the next generation. but the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars....men have been slow to face this prospect; some still hope that it may never become reality. increasing numbers, however are asking; 'why have such meetings not occurred already, since we ourselves are about to venture into space?'why not, indeed? here is one possible answer to that very reasonable question. but please remember: this is only a work of fiction. the truth, as always, will be far stranger" ― arthur c. clarke, 2001: a space odyssey
"if i were the ocean ...
i would raise you onto my gentle waves
and carry you across the seas
to swim with the whales and the dolphins
in the bio-luminescent lit waters,
so you might know peace.
if i were the stars ...
i would sparkle like never before
and fall from the sky as gentle rain,
so that you would always look towards heaven