Red Tide Leads to Glowing Bioluminescent on San Diego Beaches (See Pictures)

A massive influx dinoflagellates including "ceratium falcatiforme" and "Lingulodinium polyedra" are responsible for the red tides, according to the Scripps Insitution of Oceaonograhy based at the University California San Diego.

It may look otherworldly, but a striking display of light seen on some beaches in Southern California this week has a very earthly (or ocean-y) explanation.

Causing a red tide during the day, phytoplankton equipped with their own "sunscreen" gather near the shore at midday to catch more light.

Bio luminescence Expert Michael Latz says that hasn't happened there in almost five years. The red tide was observed from La Jolla to Encinitas this week, offshore San Diego County.

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It's caused by an algae bloom called bio luminescent phytoplankton.

Shellfish supply has become so toxic at times that commercial fishing has been shut down, Latz said. HABs also include blooms of non-toxic species that have harmful effects on marine ecosystems. He says scientists can't predict when they'll occur and they really don't understand the dynamics. "As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red", NOAA notes, adding that not all algal blooms are harmful.

A red tide off the coast of San Diego is providing night beachgoers with a stunning, yet somewhat eerie bioluminescence display.

"These are unusual and rare events and they should be enjoyed".

  • Marjorie Miles