A mysterious fiery red glow photographed by a pilot as he passed over clouds above the Atlantic Ocean have sparked comparisons with a ‘watergate’ – an underwater portal to the nightmarish parallel universe, the Upside Down – in Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things.
The three eerie images, taken on July 22, were posted to Reddit with the hopes of unraveling the mystery and included a note saying the pilot ‘says he’s never seen anything like it’.
There, they spawned a frenzy of theories and comments ranging from comparisons to scenes from the latest series of Netflix‘s hit show Stranger Things, to others that suggested it was most likely a fishing boat using large panels of red LED lights to attract schools of saury fish.
However, without closer inspection, the cause cannot be known for certain. So far the pilot has remained anonymous and there is no indication of how low he was flying or where over the Atlantic he saw the mysterious scene.
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Stranger Things: Pictured is one of three images taken by a pilot of an eerie red light through clouds above the Atlantic Ocean
The images were posted to Reddit with a note that the pilot had never seen anything like it before. Reddit commenters immediately compared the mysterious scene to the latest series of Stranger Things where an underwater portal to the nightmarish Upside Down opens under Lovers’ Lake in the very unfortunate town of Hawkins. More sensible commenters said it was most likely caused by a fishing vessel using red lights to draw schools of saury fish
Saury fishing uses hundreds of massive LED lights on fishing boats’ perimeters to attract fish, allowing them to be easily scooped up in nets. It is most often seen in the Pacific Ocean but the Atlantic saury is found from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada to Bermuda.
Although LED is the preferred option for fishing boats, due to its its higher efficiency and lower weight, the fishing boat below could be using another lighting solution like high-intensity discharge (HID). Its intense glow through the clouds suggests use of HID which would explain the volume of light escaping upwards in the photos.
Saury fish are attracted to bright, red lights. The ships, which are large, are able to lure in thousands of fish that it simply vacuums up.
When lights are placed under the water, they reflect off particles in the water. These tiny little particles enhance a natural food source for bait.
However, Redditors made the most of the opportunity to suggest theories ranging from the end of times to aliens. Among the most popular was the Stranger Things comparison where, in season four, a portal opens in Hawkins’s Lovers Lake.
Don’t get sucked in! Reddit commenters seized on the opportunity to compare the eerie red glow with the portal to the Upside Down (pictured above from the fourth season of the Netflix hit show Stranger Things). Others speculated it was the end of days or caused by aliens
The ‘watergate’ was at the bottom of Lovers Lake during the fourth season of Stranger things. The red glow of the watergate is similar to the clouds spotted by the pilot over the Atlantic Ocean
Fishing vessels similar to the one pictured uses red light panels to lure schools of saury fish. Many commenters suggested this was the likely cause of the eerie photos
One Redditor wrote: ‘Dustin’s trying to open up a portal to the upside down – it is literally a watergate,’ referring to one of the scenes.
While another fears the red glow could mean the end of days and one Redditor shared: ‘Don’t worry it’s just hte pits of hell staring back at you.’
It’s not the first time pilots have reported strange sights. In 2014, Dutch pilot JPC van Heijst said he and his co-pilot flew over glowing clouds south of the Russian peninsula Kamchatka five hours into a 10-hour flight from Hong Kong to Anchorage, Alaska in a Boeing 747-8.
Van Heijst explained on PBase that they spotted an intense flash of light like a lightning bolt, directed vertically upwards which was followed by a deep red and orange glow 20 minutes later.
However, what caused the eerie red glow under the clouds cannot be confirmed. The pilot who snapped the images has remained anonymous
A more recent incident was captured in 2020 by another pilot who was also flying over the Pacific Ocean. The images were snapped as the plane was southeast of the Sea of Okhotsk
Redditor users also speculated that the red light was from a fleet of fishing boats
The experience left van Heijst perturbed because it was completely without explanation.
There were no thunderstorms on their route or weather radar, suggesting the lightning did not originate in a storm and the following glow was also a mystery. Similar lights have been spotted from squid-fishing-boats, but van Heijst says this ‘would not make sense in this area’.
He said: ‘The closer we got, the more intense the glow became, illuminating the clouds and sky below us in a scary orange glow, in a part of the world where there was supposed to be nothing but water.’
The only cause the pilots could think of was a volcano eruption under the surface of the ocean 30 minutes earlier but no ash plume followed and despite their being a few volcanoes on their route, they had had not been alerted to any new activity – although this doesn’t necessarily include unseen underwater volcanoes.
A more recent incident was captured in 2020 by another pilot who was also flying over the Pacific Ocean. The images were snapped as the plane was southeast of the Sea of Okhotsk.
The three photos, also shared on Reddit, show the same glowing lights peaking out from under the clouds and a majority of the comments point to fishing boats, but possibly a feet.