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 another a sizeable one again this year.
Locals spotted bioluminescence in El Porto Beach, the northernmost part of Manhattan Beach, over the last weekend of February. These bright blue waves were visible from the street, grabbing the attention of
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Bioluminescence is the light emitted from a living organism through a chemical reaction that happens in its body. Bioluminescent marine creatures like phytoplankton, algae, and jellies tend to have a stunning glowing effect when disturbed. The phenomenon is largely harmless and usually occurs around this time of year. In Southern California, the glowing effect is created by the Lingulodinium polyedra dinoflagellate population. Each cell of this microscopic organism is only 35 µm in diameter, so there needs to be plenty 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.
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.
Featured image: Brandon Herrick, 2020