The surf is breaking blue in Southern California. It’s also glowing.
If a glowing blue break isn’t strange enough, the water is red when seen lit. This light show isn’t the product of a chemical spill or other man-made effort.
Tiny plankton, the algae Lingulodinium polyedrum, are red, but, when agitated, emit a light blue glow that can be seen in the dark.
The effect, a result of a chemical reaction, is usually seen in the wake of boats, but surfers are reporting enough of the bio-luminescent plankton in the water to leave trails behind them as well.
1.2 million of the plankton are being found in a liter (approx. 1/4 gallon) of water right now. Mary Hilbern, a staff research associate with Scripps Institution of Oceanographyn explains that the phenomenon usually occurs in late summer or early fall, and some years is much stronger than others.
While it lasts, local residents can expect to enjoy glowing blue nighttime surf breaks and wakes, and damp sand that sparks then kicked up.