It’s midnight, and you’re on the beach, wading carefully through the rock pools left behind by low tide. The only sound: the waves rushing back and forth. The only light coming from your head torch. Taking care not to step on the dozens of black, lethally spiky sea anemones you’ve just spotted lurking in the rocky crevasses, you turn off your light and are plunged into near-total darkness.

Then, you move your feet gently through the shallow water and the reason you came here, in the middle of the night at low tide, is revealed. Like water-bound fireflies, luminescent Noctiluca organisms dance in the disturbed water, glimmering as brightly and briefly as shooting stars. A natural phenomenon that can only be glimpsed when conditions are just right.

Vase Rock is Little Liuchiu Island's star landmark © Richie Chan / Shutterstock

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Taiwan Asia