The term ‘schlieren’ describes angular deflection of a light ray when it passes through a fluid region characterized by refractive index inhomogeneities. These inhomogeneities in the marine environment are generally caused by density variations, i.e. salinity and temperature anomalies. The influence of schlieren on transmissometers and the in situ particle sizer LISST-Deep of Sequoia Scientific are examined in the Danube delta during October 2007. A seasonal pycnocline driven mainly by an intense temperature gradient was identified as a major hydrological feature. It was associated with high buoyancy frequency values and minor changes of the refractive index of seawater. Measurements of two 25-cm path-length transmissometers (660 nm and 470 nm) showed distinguishable peaks at the pycnocline. LISST also uses a 5-cm transmissometer (670 nm), which proved to be very sensitive in both cases. This is mainly due to its very small acceptance angle, which enables enhanced light scattering outside the lens, thus increasing beam attenuation. Subsequently, LISST falsely predicts abundance of large particles within the pycnoclines. A buoyancy frequency N of 0.01 s-1 is the new proposed threshold for schlieren occurrence.