In what looks like something created using expensive Hollywood special effects, waves along the San Diego, California coastline are glowing. This phenomenon is referred to as red tide, which is caused by phytoplankton that light up when waves disturb the micro-organisms. This can also happen when walking along the water or when surfers paddle out.
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This is happening within around 20 miles of coastline from La Jolla up to Encinitas. The last time this occurred was in September of 2013, and before that October of 2011. Unfortunately, the occurrences are pretty unpredictable and can last anywhere from less than a week to over a month. And little is known about the dynamics and how big the red tide actually is.
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But scientists are able to explain the basic idea of what’s happening, with Michael Latz of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego saying that, "the red tide is due to aggregations of dinoflagellates including Ceratium falcatiforme and Lingulodinium polyedra, the latter of which is well known for its bioluminescent displays, with waves or movement in the water causing the phytoplankton to glow neon blue at night.”
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While no one is officially monitoring the red tide, the aforementioned institution’s Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System is collecting samples every week to look for any potentially harmful algal toxins. There has been no reported problems as of yet with this year’s happening. Locals are flocking to beaches late to catch a glimpse of the glowing waves, with experts recommending arriving no earlier than two hours after sunset. Even then, sightings aren’t guaranteed, but you can see some video of the red tide below...