Taiwan Straits - I must set the time line; North Korea just conducted its first nuclear test. Tension was high as Japan and South Korea immediately started to talk of needed arms build-up and China was cautiously eyeing its unpredictable neighbor to the east. The Seven Seas Mariner was in Dalian, China’s closest large city bordering North Korea where though the streets seemed to be “business as usual” there was a palpable sense of waiting for the next shoe to fall.
Days went by and our cruise continued; Beijing, Shanghai and then on to Hong Kong. The night we sailed from Shanghai we entered the Taiwan Straits, the body of water separating Mainland China from The Republic of China, a.k.a. Taiwan. Deep in conversation with our Computer Instructor, I was stopped mid-sentence when I noticed the horizon was filled with what looked like rectangular bricks of intense bright light. Not one or two, but twenty or thirty on both sides of the ship. We were surrounded. We were not the only ones who dashed outside for a better look; the decks were filled with guests, crew and officers who could not figure out what these hovering blocks were. The lights never appeared separate but rather held together as though they were one huge bar of light. And the light itself never twinkled, pulsed or flashed as lights on a boat or ship. But what was really strange was the way they moved – they looked like they were coming toward us horizontally at a very high speed. Both the port and starboard sides of the ship were being rushed by blocks of unwavering light. And as soon as they came – poof – they were gone!
The next morning I prepared my bags for my trip home. I quickly downloaded my photos from my digital camera. As I scanned the images I blurted out – that’s it! Earlier in the cruise while in Hakodate I took a picture of a squid boat. These unusual boats have row after row of huge lights contained in thick glass, globe-like bulbs. The lights are used to attract up the squid. Once caught the lights go out. Remembering how the UFO’s the previous night seemed to hover like blocks of bright light – bingo! – they were squid boats. So the mystery was solved but they became known as the Unidentified Floating Objects!