San Diego’s Surf Glows Electric Blue at Night as Red Tide Develops

A red tide that developed off the coast of San Diego has created a rare but beautiful sight for the night.

The algae bloom, more commonly known as red tide, is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton or dinoflagellates that light up when movement hits the waves. At night, the micro-organisms glow neon blue.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Michael Latz, a bioluminescence expert at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was the first one to report the incredible phenomenon on Monday.

He explained in an email, “Based on analysis of a water sample provided by Scripps collector Phil Zerofski, the water contains dense numbers of dinoflagellates especially Ceratium falcatiforme and Lingulodinium polyedra, As L. polyedra (formerly Gonyaulax polyedra) is well known for its bioluminescent displays, there may be some nice light shows tonight.”

The bioluminescent display reportedly stretches 18 miles from La Jolla to Encinitas.

– Blair Halliday