San Diego's Ocean Glows In The Dark!

By Meera Dolasia on October 5, 2011

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The oceans surrounding the coastal city of San Diego, California are known to be warm, crystal clear and . . . . . . . . Bioluminescent? At least that's what they have been for the last few weeks and the residents seem to be enjoying every moment of it.

Unfortunately, the blue electrifying streak that lights up the oceans at night, is not a sign of aliens landing, but a phenomenon called Red Tides, which occurs periodically along the California coast and many other parts of the world, when certain species of a tiny microscopic organism known as phytoplankton, becomes dominant in the ocean. Normally this occurrence is not very noticeable and lasts for a very short period of time. But this year, it has had an extended run of about three weeks and has also been extra visible.

For reasons that are still a mystery to researchers, these tiny organisms do not light up during the day. Instead, they turn the normally pristine blue ocean waters into a very murky red, brown or purple color (hence the name 'Red Tides')!

However at night, these unappealing-looking organisms become magical with their electrifying blue flashes of light that are caused by a chemical reaction when the cells hit against something. What is currently going on in San Diego is millions of them being jostled against each other by the ocean waves, resulting in brilliant flashes of light, which look incredible against the dark skies.

The best part is that they are not terribly toxic, which means that one can actually swim in the glow-in-the-dark waters! If you happen to live in the area, you can combine this great current event article with a show & tell experiment, by collecting some of the ocean water in a jar and demonstrating it in class - Guaranteed to get you an A+! And if you do, be sure to tell us by adding your comments below.

Resources: signonsandiego.com,wikipedia.org

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847 Comments
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  • Yuma 5/27/2014
    That's cool
    • ika
      ika5/25/2014
      is it poisn
      • ika
        ika5/14/2014
        how did they make the ocean red ?
        • harakeke
          harakeke5/14/2014
          I really liked how they explained about the red tides and I found out it's not toxic, I didn't understand what the word Bioluminescent meant.
          • iiDesperiusuXes5/14/2014
            I live in San Diego. The ocean at night is truly amazing!
            • kakapo
              kakapo5/14/2014
              I think thats amazing because it looks poison but it's not if I was there I would swim in the water all the time
              • ngeru
                ngeru5/14/2014
                This very cool you can swim at night and the glow in the dark water will act as a light
                • raiona
                  raiona5/14/2014
                  Its amazing that their not toxic so you can swim with them witch would be awesome and they trigger their natural glow kind of the same way the Lantern shark dose.
                  • tawa
                    tawa5/14/2014
                    This totally blew me away blue waves WOW I didn't understand the word pyhytoplankton because the word always reminds me of tiny little plankton swimming in the ocean:Tawa.
                    • mawherorapeti
                      mawherorapeti5/14/2014
                      I think this is really cool, but I wonder if the water feels different or the density is different?

                      Vocabulary

                      bioluminescentjostledorganismphenomenonphytoplanktonpristine

                      Geography

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