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The 7 Most Bizarre Natural Phenomena Caught on Camera

We humans are all too aware of the scary shit nature likes to pull on us. Whether it's destroying our towns with surging flood waters or setting our drug labs on fire with a well-placed lightning strike, we're constantly reminded that this is Mother Nature's world, and we're only squatting on it until she eventually comes home from vacation with a lingering tequila buzz and a shotgun. But perhaps that's unfair to nature: She's not all petty violence and viciousness ... sometimes she goes for more of a psychological approach to warfare. Here are a few natural phenomena that prove nature is probably just fucking with our heads ...

#7. Electric Blue Seas

Doug Perrine/naturepl.com

This looks like a hot vacation spot in Tron World. It looks like a jellyfish rave. It looks like somebody ate the future and threw it up on a beach. This is actually a bioluminescent bloom, and it's the result of a mass of naturally glowing plankton washing up all at once on a single tide. There is zero trickery going on here. If you were standing there in person, this is exactly what it would look like. The motion of the ocean agitates the bioluminescent plankton as it brings them to shore, causing the waves to flare to sudden, brilliant life.

Naomi Paquette
That, or some crab chewed open a glow stick.

The best part is the effect is not harmful or forbidden to humans at all. If you're at a beach when this happens, just wade on in there and start playing with Mother Nature's version of Microsoft Surface, like so:

#6. Frost Flowers

Matthias Wietz via Colossal

It's like a scene out of an arctic-themed Disney movie: This would be the set piece when Princess Nanoo sings about the "frozen beauty of the north," right before the sinister Duke of Blubber steals her away.

Matthias Wietz via Colossal
And the gallant Prince Icenuts must come to her rescue.

And it is absolutely real: These are Frost Flowers, and they're formed when tiny imperfections in surface ice kickstart a chain reaction of bizarre growth. Hollow tubes of ice form vertically from the imperfections, pulling moisture and debris into the structure. More ice grows over those imperfections, bringing in more moisture and debris, and so on and so forth until you have an entire floating field of icy romance.

#5. Snow Chimneys

Kazakh Geographic Society

Ah, the ancient slumbering giant whose frozen body forms Antarctica finally awakens, just as the prophecy foretold, and it seems he's uh ... he's got some steamy morning wood.

Flixya
As if there's any other kind.

That's actually an ice fumarole. A normal fumarole is a vent that protrudes from the ground, allowing steam from volcanoes to escape out into the open. Of course, arctic volcanoes have fumaroles, too, but it's so cold that steam particles freeze upon contact with the outside air, building up and up until you eventually get massive, 60-foot-high "ice chimneys" inexplicably shooting hot air out into the arctic wasteland. It makes sense now that you know the explanation, but if you were an arctic explorer stumbling upon one of those things for the first time, you just know you'd assume "giant Eskimos cooking breakfast."

#4. Moonbows

Dale P. Cruikshank via NASA

Quiet, can you hear it? It's as if a thousand voices suddenly cried out at once! And they cried out "FAAAKE PIXLZZZ!!!"

That's either clearly Photoshopped, or we've finally discovered the gateway to Oz. The interior of the rainbow is daytime, the exterior is night. You expect us to believe this fantasy bullshit? Well, you should probably start: While it may look like the pseudo-surrealist pap you'd find hanging in some naturopath dentist's office, this is a real photo of a real phenomenon. There are such things as rainbows in the middle of the night. If it looks like the sun's coming up in the middle of that rainbow, it's not -- that's just the long exposure augmenting background light.

But the effect isn't just long-exposure trickery. If the conditions are just right, you can see Moonbows with the naked eye, if you're paying attention to the sky opposite the moon. For once, the explanation is simple: Moonbows work exactly like rainbows and appear whenever bright moonlight refracts just so off of moisture in the air.

Photo courtesy Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)
And also whenever a fairy reaches second base.

And they happen fairly often, it's just that most are duller rainbows, or less sharp eyes only pick up on a faint white shimmering arc, while some lucky bastards can squint and see a rainbow in the dark. So it turns out Dio wasn't a poet, after all: Dude just had some keen peepers.

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