The last two springs brought massive “red tides” with some of the most jaw-dropping displays of bioluminescence we’ve ever seen on SoCal beaches and residents are seeing another sizeable wave this season.
Bioluminescence is the light emitted from a living organism through a chemical reaction in its body, and California often sees this phenomenon right around the end of the summer. In Southern California, the magnetic blue glow. is created by the lingulodinium polyedra dinoflagellate population. Each cell of this microscopic organism is only 35 µm in diameter, so plenty must be present to create the blue radiance. That, along with strong winds and currents makes these blooms pretty elusive and those that get to see them are lucky indeed.
Locals have spotted this glittering display in across the coast like San Diego and most recently Pacifica in the Bay Area. Photographer Erik Jepsen was lucky enough to capture a surfer shredding the glow just last week.
Seeing a luminous blue wave crashing on the shores and lighting up the night is a truly magical spectacle. While there’s no sure way of finding them, you can attempt to track sightings on social media by following hashtags like #bio2022 or #bioluminescence. You can also follow your local oceanography institutes.
Featured image: Brandon Herrick, 2020