AN UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENON OF THE SEA
By COMMANDER J. R. BODLER, U.
S. Naval Reserve (Inactive)
My vessel had passed through the
Strait of Hormuz bound for India. Little Quoin Is. Light was still in sight
on the starboard quarter, bearing 305° T, distance 20 miles. The night was
bright and clear, with very good visibility, no moon. The Third Mate called
me to the bridge saying that he had observed something he thought I should
points on the port bow toward the coast of Iran, there was a luminous band
which seemed to pulsate. Its appearance suggested the aurora borealis but
much lower, in fact, on or below the horizon. Examination with binoculars
showed that the luminous area was definitely below the horizon in the water
and drawing nearer to the vessel. With the approach of this phenomenon, it
became apparent that the pulsations seemed to start in the center of the band
and flow outward towards its extremities.
distance of about a mile from the ship, it was apparent that the disturbance was roughly
circular in shape, about 1000 to 1500 feet in diameter. The pulsations could
now be seen to be caused by a revolving motion of the entire pattern about a
rather ill-defined center with streaks of light like the beams of
search-lights, radiating outward from the center and revolving (in a
counterclockwise direction) like the spokes of a gigantic wheel.
For several minutes the vessel
occupied the approximate center of the phenomenon. Slightly curved bands of
light crossed the bow, passed rapidly down the port side from bow to stern,
and up the starboard side from aft forward. The luminosity was sufficient to
make portions of the vessel’s upper works quite visible. The bands of
luminance seemed to pass a given point at about half-second intervals. As may
well be imagined, the effect was weird and impressive in the extreme with the
vessel seeming to occupy the center of a huge pinwheel whose
"spokes" consisted of phosphorescent luminance revolving rapidly
about the vessel as a hub. (The sketch on the next page shows,
diagrammatically, the effect produced. Arrows indicate direction of
The central "hub" of the
phenomenon drew gradually to starboard and passed aft becoming more and more
distant on the starboard quarter. While it was still in sight several miles
astern and appearing by this time as a pulsating band of light, a repetition
of the same manifestation appeared fine on the starboard bow. This was
slightly smaller in area than the first and a trifle less brilliant. Its
center passed slowly aft on the starboard side with the pattern of revolving,
luminous "spokes" clearly defined.
It was my impression that the actual
illumination was caused by the natural phosphorescence in the water
periodically stimulated by regular waves of energy. The shape of the
"pinwheel," the well-defined "spokes," the revolutions
about a center, and the speed with which each band of light traversed the
water all preclude the possibility of this phenomenon being caused by schools
of fish, porpoises, or similar cause.
Approximately half an hour later, a
third repetition of this manifestation was observed. The general
characteristics, direction of rotation, etc., were the same as the others, but
this one was much smaller and less brilliant. Its diameter was not over 800
to 1000 feet and, compared to the other two, was unimpressive. It was first
observed much closer to the vessel than had been the case with the others.
Whether this was due to its lesser brilliance or the fact that it came into
being at comparatively close range could not be determined.
At the time of the above, conditions
were as follows: Date—14
November, 1949, time 1830 GMT, position 26°-17.5' N, 56°-51' E. Wind
NW'ly force 1. Sea calm with slight surface ripples; no swell. Air 75°
(Fahr.), sea 83°. Visibility very good. A clear, bright night with no moon.
Vessel’s course 157° T. Speed through
the water 11.6 knots, Actual speed over the bottom approximately 9 knots due
to strong head current. (Very strong streams are encountered in this area.) At no time were any unusual
deviations of the magnetic compass observed.
It is of interest to note that the
same, or similar, phenomena have previously been reported in the Indian Ocean.
A book titled Oddities by T. R. Gould, published in England during the
past century, devotes a chapter to reports of similar manifestations.
However, the author is as unable as the present writer to offer an
explanation! This volume, unfortunately, is not in the writer's possession at
the present time. The author appears to be a pre-Ripley collector of various
odd occurrences, well authenticated, but never satisfactorily explained.
It is the present writer's conviction
that he has been privileged to witness one of the rare instances of a most
curious and impressive natural phenomenon. If other seafarers have had a
similar experience, or [if] anyone of scientific bent can offer an explanation of the
foregoing, he would be most interested to learn more on the subject.
SKETCH SHOWING AN ODDITY OF THE SEA
A veteran Merchant Marine Officer, Commander Bodler was
Gunnery Officer of the Regulus
(AK-14) and of the Liscome Bay
(CVE-56), and in command of the Hemminger
(DE-746) and the Vixen (PG-53)
during World War II.
to the Merchant Marine in 1946, he has been Master of the Frank Adair Monroe, the Charles Tufts, and the Sarah Orne Jewett, and at present is
Master of the Seaveteran.
This original reference: Bodler, J.R., "An Unexplained
Phenomenon of the Sea," United States Naval Institute Proceedings,
78:66, 1952, pp. 66-67.
UFOCAT PRN – 056813 [DOS:
UFOCAT URN – 081391 Invisible Residents by Ivan T.
Sanderson, p. 99, © 1970
UFOCAT PRN – 181965 [DOS:
UFOCAT URN – 136608 UFO’s and the National Security
State by Richard M. Dolan, 493-048,
UFOCAT URN – 181965 UFOs and the National Security State
by Richard M. Dolan, 398-048,
UFOCAT PRN – 181965 [DOS:
UFOCAT URN – NONE
"An Unexplained Phenomenon of the Sea" by J.R. Bodler, in
United States Naval Institute Proceedings,
78:66, 1952, pp. 66-67.
UFOCAT URN – 056813 UFO’s Over the Americas by Coral
Lorenzen, p. 49, © 1968
UFOCAT URN – 182363 *U* UFO Computer Database by Larry
Hatch, # 01471, © 2002
Southwestern Asia - Persian Gulf -
is bounded by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran
Location from Text Latitude 26-17.5 N, Longitude
56-51 E (D-M)
Persian Gulf Latitude
27-00 N, Longitude 51-00 E (D-M)
Little Quoin Island, Oman Latitude: 26-30 N, Longitude 56-31 E (D-M)
Reference: Oman Gazetteer, prepared by the Defense
Mapping Agency Topographic Center, Washington, D.C., March 1976
Strait of Hormuz Latitude:
26-34 N, Longitude 56-15 E (D-M)
Located between the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Iran
Reference: Arabian Peninsula Gazetteer, prepared in the
Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., June 1961
Indian Ocean Latitude
10-00 S, Longitude 70-00 E (D-M)
Reference: Indian Ocean Gazetteer, prepared in the
Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., March 1957