A surfer in San Diego was lucky enough to catch bioluminescent waves when he went for his evening surf among the natural phenomenon caused by a specific type of algae.
Surfer rides electric blue waves in “red tide” phenomenon
The recent biolumenesnce off the California coast has been out of this world. Last week we shared surreal footage of glowing dolphins streaking through the dark depths, and now a surfer has been filmed hanging ten in the electric blue waters. The phenomenon is caused by an algae bloom of tiny bioluminescent phytoplankton that light up the water around them when they are disturbed—hence the blue water in the surfboard‘s wake. Despite its blue colour, this kind of algae bloom is commonly referred to as a ‘red tide’.
The single-celled algae light up their bodies when they’re startled
The breathtaking sights are made possible by dinoflagellates, a tiny species of bio-luminescent plankton. The organisms have massed together in large numbers along the west coast this month, making it much easier to see them when they start flashing en masse.
The single-celled algae produce two chemicals that light up their bodies when they’re startled, in what biologist Rebecca Helm described on Twitter as “luminous little panic attacks.”
The bloom is known as a “red tide” because of the way it looks during the day, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The phenomenon is also famous for producing “electric blue waves” after dark.
“We don’t know how long the current red tide will last, as previous events have lasted anywhere from one week to a month or more,” the institution wrote on Facebook.
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