Legends and superstitions are a common phenomenon in shipping, an industry with roots lost in the centuries, but some of them are accompanied by inexplicable stories. Surely you have heard of haunted ships or ghost ships, but do you know the truth about ‘Fata Morgana’? Depending on who you ask, they will tell you that Fata Morgana is a complex form of upper mirage seen just above the horizon, and can appear on land or sea, in the polar regions or in deserts.
In early August, incredible images emerged showing what appeared to be a floating island moving over water in a bay in Alaska. The video was recorded from a boat in Glacier Bay and posted on the Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve Facebook page. According to the description, the images show the ‘Fata Morgana’ effect distorting on Lone Island in the central bay area of the park, which spans 13 million hectares of snow-capped mountains, sheltered fjords, glaciers, and rainforests.
The phenomenon that caused this floating island illusion is called Fata Morgana, a complex form of superior mirage that occurs when light is refracted through different layers of air with different temperatures. When this happens, the light is bent and distorted, creating an optical illusion of an object that appears to be floating above the actual position of the object. Fata Morgana is named after Morgan le Fay, a sorceress from Arthurian legend, who was known for her ability to create illusions.
Fata Morgana is not a new phenomenon, and it has been documented in various parts of the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It is commonly observed in polar regions where there are sharp temperature gradients between different layers of air. The phenomenon can create various types of optical illusions, such as inverted or distorted images of objects, or even entire objects that appear to be floating in mid-air.
The Fata Morgana effect has been associated with several myths and legends, such as the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship that is doomed to sail the seas forever. The legend has it that the ship shines with a ghostly light and its captain and crew are cursed to wander the oceans for all eternity.
While some may dismiss these stories as mere myths, the Fata Morgana phenomenon was recently observed in Glacier Bay, Alaska, creating an illusion of a floating island that captured the imagination of many. The Glacier Bay researchers shared the video on their Facebook page, inviting viewers to witness this incredible mirage and see how islands in Glacier Bay turn into UFOs or Flying Dutchmen with a little imagination and a dash of cool science.
The Fata Morgana phenomenon is a reminder of the power of nature to create incredible illusions and to inspire the human imagination. It is a reminder that even in the age of science and technology, there are still mysteries and wonders that continue to fascinate and intrigue us. As we continue to explore the natural world, let us keep an open mind and a sense of wonder, for there are still many mysteries waiting to be discovered.