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Bioluminescent Waves Mesmerise California Beachgoers and Surfers

Posted by Maria Cristina Chiulli on

Beachgoers in California are enjoying a dazzling display of crashing bioluminescent waves in Southern California. The waves light up at night as they crash and froth in the shallow water. Surfers riding on the lit up waves described it as a once in a lifetime experience.

An algal bloom of phytoplankton in the water causes the remarkable display. The phenomenon occurs every few years along the coast of southern California, though locals say this year's sea sparkle is especially vibrant, possibly related to historic rains that soaked the region and generated algal bloom. The phytoplankton organisms responsible for the light show are known scientifically as Lingulodinium polyedra. They collect on the water's surface, giving the surface a reddish-brown tint, known as a red tide. At night, the algae put on a light show and are particularly noticeable in turbulent waters. The tiny creatures turn bright blue in predator avoidance behaviour.

The bioluminescent algae have drawn crowds to beaches. Red tides stretch from Baja California up the coast to Los Angeles. They have been noticed since the early 1900s and can last from a few days to a couple of months. (source: EcoWatch.com)

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