Surfing On Light

Starting in 2012, bioluminescence has been on our radar, and the phenomenon never fails to impress. We appreciate  the potential utility, and will continue linking to the science. But for now, consider California, hard hit by so many other unwelcome phenomena, and how it deserves a bit of light fun now:

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Blue waves, illuminated by the light of bioluminescent organisms, crash along the coast of Blacks Beach in the community of La Jolla. Photograph: KC Alfred/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Bioluminescent waves dazzle surfers in California: ‘Never seen anything like it’

Crowds are coming to see the light show as beaches begin to reopen after an almost month-long closure due to coronavirus

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A surfer rides a wave as bioluminescent plankton lights up the surf around him, in Newport Beach, California. Photograph: Mark J Terrill/AP

Mother nature has provided a radical gift to nighttime beach-goers in southern California, in the form of bioluminescent waves that crash and froth with an otherworldly light.

The event occurs every few years along the coast of southern California, though locals say this year’s sea sparkle is especially vibrant, possibly related to historic rains that soaked the region and generated algal bloom.

For some, this year’s light show was especially meaningful, coming just as beaches began to reopen after an almost month-long closure due to coronavirus.

Dale Huntington, a 37-year-old pastor at a church in south-eastern San Diego, got up at 3am after beaches reopened to surf the iridescent waves.

“I’ve been surfing for 20 years now, and I’ve never seen anything like it”, Huntington said.

The neon waves owe their color to blooming microscopic plants called phytoplankton. By day, the organisms collect on the water’s surface to give the water a reddish-brown hue, known as the red tide. By night, the algae put on a light show, dazzling most brightly in turbulent waters.

One photographer off the coast of Newport Beach, where crowds in recent weeks have protested against closures, recorded a dolphin jetting through bioluminescence like a sea spectre…

Read the whole article here.

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