Bioluminescent bloom lights up waves

Bioluminescent bloom lights up waves

Bioluminescent bloom lights up waves

The algae is filled with bioluminescent phytoplankton, which create an eerie, blue glow whenever it's jostled around by the rolling waves.

San Diego beaches are lighting up blue due to a phenomenon called a red tide.

The San Diego coast is hosting a red tide, which is a bloom involving these single-cell organisms that can make the water appear red.

Causing a red tide during the day, phytoplankton equipped with their own "sunscreen" gather near the shore at midday to catch more light.

Photographer Stephen Bay, who captured images of the waves earlier this week and said the color reminded him of a Star Wars light saber, likened the bioluminescence display to another natural phenomenon.

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"The last time we had one was in September 2013, and the last big one was in October 2011", Michael Latz, a bioluminescence expert at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, to told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"This bloom, like many HABs, is caused by microscopic algae that produce toxins that kill fish and make shellfish risky to eat".

The current red tide in San Diego is not harmful or toxic, though.

Latz said scientists "don't really know" why red tides occur, and said the events typically occur in the fall but can take place in the spring, as this week. "As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red", NOAA states, adding that not all algal blooms are harmful.

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