Watch surfers ride neon blue bioluminescent waves caused by red tide

On the beaches of Southern California, a phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum is responsible for a spate of red tide. Massive algal blooms like this make the water ruddy during the day, but disrupting the microorganisms at night results in bursts of electric blue bioluminescence. Says Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor Dr. Peter Franks of this phenomenon:

[Lingulodinium polyedrum is] intensely bioluminescent. When jostled, each organism will give off a flash of blue light created by a chemical reaction within the cell. When billions and billions of cells are jostled — say, by a breaking wave — you get a seriously spectacular flash of light.


As you can see in the above video, the surfers cause neon bursts whenever they begin paddling. This particular dinoflagellate is not toxic, and the electric blue waves should last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

[Via The Scuttlefish and The L.A. Times]

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