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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  • Andrew L.1/11/2012
    The plankton is doing this.Making the ocean have different colors.THis is the cause and effect
    • Alex Perez1/11/2012
      San Diego's ocean glows in the dark. The cause is the phytoplankton. the phytoplankton makes the light because its a chemical reaction when ever its sell hits something it lights up. The effect is there are blue lights in the water.
      • Erin S1/11/2012
        The article i thought was amazing. But I was surprised how the water glowed neon blue. The cause was the phytoplankton. It is not very noticeable because the phytoplankton becomes dominant in the ocean.
        • swirlylollypops
          wow! it's so pretty!
          • savannah1234
            Whoa! Now that is what I call cool!
            • rachel 1/21/2012
              this is amazing
              • Grace1/23/2012
                This is amazing i wish where by i live that would happen to the water
                • borntodance
                  I know! I am doing a current events thing for my science and my science teacer (who is also my grandmother) loves expierimens. If i brought a sample in she would like die!
                • p1/28/2012
                  • eans716
                    In this article, I have learned that there is a strange chemical making the water change different colors. It was very strange. I think this article is very cool because water changes color it can be red it is very nice it is very cool i love this article it is good to learn about this.
                    • eans716
                      In this article, I learned that there are strange chemicals making the water turn to a different color. It is very weird. This article is very cool because the water color is very neat.




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