San Diego Waves Glow in the Dark
by Owen James Burke
Crowds of people have been lining the beaches in San Diego at night to film and witness the electric blue surf
Though mildly toxic, red tides are more or less harmless to humans. You’ll just have a harder time convincing yourself to go into the water upon seeing the milky crimson soup that clouds the water column.
Red tides are algal blooms. Red tides are created by any number different algal species, including the warmwater phytoplankton Lingulodinium polyedrum, currently plaguing San Diego’s waters. Some blooms, but not all, produce natural toxins or deplete the water of oxygen, causing severe mortality rates in many marine organisms.
The bioluminescence is a phenomenon that occurs when the organisms are disturbed, as Professor Peter J. Franks of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography explained to the Los Angeles Times:
“When jostled, each organism will give off a flash of blue light created by a chemical reaction within the cell. When billions and billions of cells are jostled — say, by a breaking wave — you get a seriously spectacular flash of light.”
During the past few weeks in San Diego, some have even managed a night surf thanks to it.