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.


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  • 4afranz
    4afranzTuesday, April 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm
    • cutiepie99
      cutiepie99Monday, February 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm
      • sumsum
        sumsumSunday, December 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm
        no offense, but kinda creepy!
        • gdogFriday, December 6, 2013 at 10:27 am
          shine bright like a diamond
          • headream100
            headream100Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 12:22 am
            That is amazing and pretty interesting. I would have written that for my current events if only it had not been so old.
            • puppy953708
              puppy953708Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm
              • snowygirl105
                snowygirl105Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 10:44 am
                cool cool cool i did not know that that is pretty awesome
                • 12570
                  12570Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:39 am
                  wow i did not know that!
                  • Prestiege isKeyThursday, October 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm
                    ya dude thats awesome one night i went swimming with my friends there and u could see the glowness! XDXDXD but at 1:00 AM my friend was bitten by a baby white shark :( but he still got injured pretty bad :( i just say dont go there at night or past 1:00 PM thats when the predators come in the san diego ocean. Thanks for reading ;) ~Tyler
                    • xdarkwolfx
                      xdarkwolfxMonday, September 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm
                      That is awesome. I wish I could swim in that water!

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