Go Back Report # 1223







     A Remarkable Phenomenon.—The Imperial Merchant Service Guild have received from their member, Captain H. Bradley, commanding the Wilson liner Ariosto, the following account of his curious experience in the Indian Ocean on February 17 last. This information has also been furnished to the Indian Government Observatory at Bombay. The account reads as follows:—“At 7:30 p.m. on the 17th February, 1912, in lat. 23 deg. 37 min. N.; long. 67 deg. 20 min. E., 19 mile[s] off the nearest point of land on the Kutch coast, also 127 miles northwest of the town of Dwarka, on the Kathiawar coast, the weather at the time being very fine, with a clear and cloudless sky, full of stars, sea smooth, wind moderate, breeze from N.W., the S.S. Ariosto steaming 9˝ knots and perfectly steady. We steamed into the most curious and weird atmospheric phenomena it has been my lot to see in all my 40-years' experience of a sea life. As we approached it, it had the appearance of breakers on a low beach, but when we got into it at first it looked like flashes of light (not bright), coming from all directions in quick time. After some few minutes of this, the flashes assumed a lengthened shape, following quickly one after the other from the north, and these continued some minutes, steadily veering east and south and S.W. into N.W. All the time this was going on, the surface of the sea appeared to be violently agitated, at times very high seas, as if they would completely engulf the ship, the imagined waves always going in the same direction as the waves of light, and at the time, the waves of light were from opposite directions. At the same time the sea appeared like a boiling pot, giving one a most curious feeling, the ship being perfectly still, and expecting her to lurch and roll every instant. It turned me dizzy watching the moving flashes of light so that I had to close my eyes from time to time. We were steaming in this for 20 minutes and then passed out of it, the same appearance on leaving it as we saw approaching it, as of breakers on a low beach. And for 20 minutes everything around assumed its normal condition, a beautiful, fine, clear, and cloudless night. At the end of this time we again saw the same thing ahead of the ship, and in a few minutes were fairly amongst it again, but if anything slightly worse, the waves of light acting in precisely a similar manner, this second lot lasting about 15 minutes, when we again steamed out of it, and saw nothing any more all the night until our arrival off Karachi at 2:30 a.m. on the 18th. When the flashes passed over, the sea appeared, just for that instant of time, to be full of jelly fish, but I do not think there were any about. I have seen the white water many times in this Arabian Sea, but this did not appear like that in any way. It gave one the idea of the cinematograph without the brightness, the flashes being so quick in their movements. The Imperial Merchant Service Guild have addressed a communication containing the report of this phenomenal occurrence to the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty.


Reference for the above text is: E-mail from Lucius Farish to Chris Aubeck and forwarded to me (CF), dated January 24, 2011.

Original reference: The West Australian (Perth, WA: 1879-1954), Thursday 18 April 1912, page 4. National Library of Australia: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23870025




Indian Ocean – Arabian Sea

Ship’s position     Latitude 23-37 N, Longitude 67-20 E (D-M)


Kutch                 Latitude 22-36-00 N, Longitude 069-30-00 E (D-M-S) [Gulf]

Dwarka               Latitude 22-14-22 N, Longitude 068-58-04 E

Kathiawar           Latitude 21-58-00 N, Longitude 070-30-00 E [peninsula]

Reference: http://geonames.nga.mil/ggmaviewer/


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