The strange red lights floating over the Pacific are fishing boats, not aliens – The France 24 observers | Gmx Pharm

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American pilot Dustin Maggard on July 16 snapped a picture of strange red lights he saw as he flew over the Pacific Ocean. Since then, many people have shared the images on social media or left comments claiming the lights are either secret military exercises or supernatural phenomena. In reality, the lights came from fishing boats equipped with particularly powerful LED lights.

If you only have a minute

  • On July 16, while flying over the Pacific Ocean, pilot Dustin Maggard saw strange red lights glowing beneath the clouds and managed to capture them on camera. Maggard told our colleagues at CNN that he had “never seen anything like it.”
  • Since then, the photos taken by the pilot have been widely shared on social media. People have all sorts of theories – some say they show supernatural phenomena, while others say it’s an underwater escape or secret military exercises.
  • We contacted a meteorologist who looked at it. According to their research and that of fact-checking journalists, these lights are not supernatural… turns out to be LED lights used by fishing boats in this part of the North Pacific.

The fact check in detail

People on the internet have left plenty of comments and many theories – some more serious than others – about the origins of the strange red lights. Captions range from “you might think we’re in Stranger Things” to “there’s no question it’s a volcanic eruption” to “it’s a nuclear submarine!”. However, it turns out that these photos, taken by an American pilot on July 16, 2022, have a much simpler explanation.

“A strange phenomenon was observed in the Pacific Ocean by the pilot of a commercial flight at 39,000 feet. Are they back?” reads this tweet posted on July 17, 2022 in French, including the image taken over the Pacific Ocean. © Observer

One of the people who dealt with this picture was the founder of the Twitter account FAKE Investigation, which specializes in fact-checking, and American meteorologist Neil Jacobs. All share the same hypothesis: that these red lights come from fishing boats, especially Chinese ones, equipped with LED (or light-emitting diode) lights.

In the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, for example in Japan, lights are used for fishing squid, as well as saury, a species of fish.

Meteorologist Neil Jacobs told the FRANCE 24 Observers team:

Traditionally these ships used high pressure sodium or metal halide lamps, but these are extremely inefficient and very expensive. They are also limited in what color wavelengths they can emit. These ships use onboard generators to generate electricity. So you can imagine how expensive the fuel cost would be to generate all that light for several hours each night. When LEDs came out they were quickly adapted to this application as not only were they exceptionally efficient but you can switch between different colors of light. This meant ships could simply head north and switch from white or blue with a switch [to attract squid] to red light [to attract saury].


These LED lights are so powerful that on May 7, 2022, they lit the sky red over the city of Zhoushan, China.

These types of fishing boats actually operated in the zone over which Maggard’s plane flew on July 16th. FAKE Investigation and Neil Jacobs verified this using Global Fishing Watch, an online map that tracks fishing vessel movements.

On Jul 16, Chinese fishing vessels equipped with these LEDs – including the YONG FA 5 and the GUOJI907 – were fishing at coordinates 50N/167E.

“Yesterday I came across this page while searching for ‘fishing boat location map’. But the archives from 15th and 16th July 2022 were not yet available online. Now that they are we can confirm that there were, actual fishing boats in this zone on July 16, 2022,” FAKE Investigation posted on Twitter. “According to the data, there were seven boats in the zone which looks like it may match the photos that have been circulating. Here are two examples. ”

“So what we’ve ended up with is large ships that are equipped with red LEDs that were right there when the photo was taken — pretty compelling evidence,” Jacobs said.

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