Southern California coasts glow with an electric blue phenomenon

Bioluminescent waves occurring along the Southern California coasts. (By: LA Times)

By: Abby Stewart | Sports Editor

May 1, 2020

During these anxious times, citizens of Southern California have come across what might just be a once in a lifetime experience. A rare phenomenon called bioluminescence has been showing up along the coast, bringing residents out of their houses and down to the sandy beaches.

Around April 15th, a thick red tide began showing up along the Southern California coasts during the day. Red tides are unpredictable and they are often a sign that bioluminescence could occur. Red tides are not uncommon in the area, but they rarely produce bioluminescence. 

“It was super cool to see everything lit up and the sand glowing when I stepped,” San Clemente High School senior Andrew Gansel said. “I went in the water and it was really a crazy experience.”

Dolphins swimming in the water off the Newport Beach shores. (By: Newport Coast Adventure)

Many people were found in the water surfing, on boats, or simply just going for a swim in the glowing waves. Dolphins were photographed by people on a boat off the Newport Beach shores. The dolphins were outlined in the neon blue color as they swam in the wake of the boat. 

The red tide occurs when photosynthetic organisms create a dense layer on the surface of the water. Scientists often refer to this as an “algal bloom” which has potential to be harmful. In severe cases it is obvious to see as the water appears to have a red layer above it. The discolored water may also lead to oxygen depletion or a release of harmful toxins. Scientists are to believe that the harmful chemicals given off are a form of defense for this marine life.

“It was beautiful to see the waves crash and for the water to turn to a neon blue color,” SCHS senior Emily Patterson said. “It was nice to have something so exciting like that especially during this pandemic.” 

Scientists are unable to predict when this phenomenon will occur again, but keep an eye out for that red tide as this is a scene everyone should experience.

5 Comments on Southern California coasts glow with an electric blue phenomenon

  1. I also saw the algal bloom! It was a crazy experience to swim in the water and watch the water crash and light up. It seemed so much brighter in the water instead of watching them from the shore. It was definitely unforgettable.

  2. Such an amazing phenomenon! It was nice to read about how the phenomenon actually occurred because the ocean was so beautiful when it was lit up by the “algal bloom.”

  3. Being able to experience the red tide phenomenon myself was truly incredible. It was super fascinating to learn about how and why this freak of nature occurred!

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