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A Spectacular Display Of Bioluminescence Is Making Californian Beaches Glow

Ashlyn Davis Ashlyn Davis

Bioluminescence

Take a look at the mesmerising bioluminescence appearing along the Southern California coast.

An incredible plankton bloom – known as a “red tide” – is happening off the coast of Southern California right now and it’s creating an incredible display of neon blue waves come nighttime. This particular bloom stretches from Baja California to Los Angeles, which is especially large. Whenever the water is disturbed, by the crashing of waves or the splashing of swimmers, chemicals in the plankton cause them to light up, creating the bioluminescence you can see in this stunning video. (Featured image: @mameum)

The blooms, properly known as the dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedra, forms part of the plankton population in Southern California. Each cell of this microscopic organism is only 35 µm in diameter—which means you need a lot of them to create the blue radiance. Their reddish daytime appearance discolors the water which is how the term “red tide” came about, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

A red tide isn’t guaranteed to produce bioluminescence, and when they do, it’s not exactly easy to find. However, the stars have aligned for this bloom: just check out this breathtaking sight of dolphins swimming in the Pacific, and leaving a luminous trail behind them!

While not everyone is able to venture out to see the phenomenon, many California locals have captured beautiful visuals for everyone to enjoy. From electric blue swirls to dolphin light shows and surfers catching glowing waves, here is a roundup of incredible shots from along the coast.

It’s important to note that while the plankton is beautiful to look at, it can alter toxicity levels in the water and affect the respiratory systems of some. Scientists are unable to say how long will this last. as red tides are unpredictable and can last from a few weeks to months – but right now, it’s truly mesmerising stuff.