Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Video: Watch A Surfer Ride San Diego's Glow-in-the-Dark, Algae-Infested Blue Waves

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Algae blooms off the coast of San Diego have been turning waves a rusty red by day and a radiant, bioluminescent blue at night.

Here's the science behind the eerie, glowing waves, according to the Los Angeles Times:

The blue glow is caused by an algae bloom commonly referred to as a red tide. The organisms, phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum, have bloomed since late August, turning the water brownish-red in the daytime, according to UC San Diego scientists.
The churning of the waves turns the tide a brilliant blue, visible only at night.
It's caused by a chemical reaction on the cellular level, said Peter J. Franks, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor who calls the phytoplankton "my favorite dinoflagellate."

A video uploaded to YouTube by user LoghanCall shows the phenomenon, including a shot of a surfer catching one of the waves at twilight:

Support for LAist comes from