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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  • Alexis1/10/2012
    The cause is the orginzims glow at night. That effect is because cell hit and that makes glow. And at night the glow is pink, purple, and blue and has a neon color or eletric look to it. Also I think it is so cool that people can actually swim in that water! Also that is really cool scientests could figure all of this stuff out. The diffrence between weather and climate is. Weather is like it is sunny and blah blah blah it is that hot out, But the climate is more of the temperture
    • Alexis1/10/2012
      The cause is the orginzims glow at night. That effect is because cell hit and that makes glow. And at night the glow is pink, purple, and blue and has a neon color or eletric look to it. Also I think it is so cool that people can actually swim in that water! Also that is really cool scientests could figure all of this stuff out. The diffrence between weather and climate is. Weather is like it is sunny and blah blah blah it is that hot out, But the climate is more of the temperture
      • Alexis1/10/2012
        The cause is the orginzims glow at night. That effect is because cell hit and that makes glow. And at night the glow is pink, purple, and blue and has a neon color or eletric look to it. Also I think it is so cool that people can actually swim in that water! Also that is really cool scientests could figure all of this stuff out. The diffrence between weather and climate is. Weather is like it is sunny and blah blah blah it is that hot out, But the climate is more of the temperture
        • $Joris$B$1/10/2012
          The cause is the plankton hit and smash together. The effect is while smashing together they make a chemical reaction that makes the plankton glow blue in the night like glow stick. The interesting part is that the chemical reaction is NOT toxic. It should be awesome swimming in glowing water
          • Sera G.1/10/2012
            The cause is of these beautiful lights are because of something called Red Tide. Red Tide are little tiny organisms in the water. This amazing thing happens up to three weeks at a time. I wish I could see the lights in real life.
            • Sera G.1/10/2012
              The cause of this amazingly beautiful thing are "Red Tides." Red Tides are little microscopic organisms in the water. The effect, of course, are those delightful electric blue lights we see. These lights come about three weeks at a time. I think these are beautiful. i wish i could see them in person some day. Maybe i can go there for a vacation. I also like the video of the guy surfing, and how the water glows when he surfs. I hope you agree to my comment. SCIENCE NEWS!!!
              • Kylik C jr1/10/2012
                sup so cool
                • James L.1/9/2012
                  I love this article. It is amazing! I wonder why the organisms don't mix with other waters and go to many different shores. Not just that one. The video of the surfer reminded me of a glow board. The surfer is the glow pen and the glow follows the pen and disappears behind you. FUN!
                  • P1/8/2012
                    SSSSSOOOOOOOO KKKKKOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL
                    • jj1/5/2012
                      looks like moon

                      Vocabulary

                      bioluminescentjostledorganismphenomenonphytoplanktonpristine

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