I don't know if this is an appropriate place to ask this, so if that's the case please let me know.

Every time I fly between Singapore and Tokyo I spot a bright light somewhere in the South China Sea (possibly the East China Sea, I can't really remember). Since it's always in the middle of the night, all I can see is what looks like a giant flame in the middle of the ocean.

Does anyone know what this is?

  • 1
    No idea, but maybe an oil rig? – deviantfan Sep 25 '15 at 14:06
  • 3
    Squid-fishing boats, perhaps? The link is to some imagery from the South Atlantic, but I've seen references to it happening in the South China Sea as well. – Michael Seifert Sep 25 '15 at 14:08
  • @deviantfan That was my initial thought, but is it meant to be burning constantly? – Bobe Sep 25 '15 at 14:08
  • Yes, they burn all night. Also, they tend to gather in large groups in order to set their nets, so the lights are large and continuous. – RoboKaren Sep 25 '15 at 14:22
  • 1
    I think @RoboKaren was referring to the fishing boats. Oil rigs won't gather in groups to set nets. – deviantfan Sep 25 '15 at 23:33

If you saw a single point of light and it was flame like, then it may have been an oil platform flaring off, as there are quite few of them scattered through the area.

If it was multiple points of bright light, it would have been squid fishermen. Occasionally you will see a single boat, but usually they congregate in an area, so as to benefit from each other's lights (squid, like moths and other insects are drawn to bright lights). From a jet, squid fishing looks like a city, lots of lights in an area, but out to sea. Though usually not too far offshore.

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