A red tide is providing the California coastline with some brilliant bioluminescence at night.
Photographers on Tuesday and Wednesday shared gorgeous photos on Twitter of glowing waves that were captured on San Diego beaches.
People were blown away by how surreal the photos looked.
It looks like another planet.
— D Marie (@divingtech) May 9, 2018
yeah I wouldn’t have believed the color unless I saw it with my own eyes. Neon blue is not something you normally expect to see in nature
— Stephen Bay (@stephen_bay) May 9, 2018
According to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a department at the University of California, San Diego, the red tide is due to a vast number of dinoflagellates — a type of marine plankton that floats on or near the ocean’s surface. At night dinoflagellates can cause a neon blue color to beam from the water with waves or movement.
Dimitri Deheyn, a research scientist with Scripps, told NBCLA that the vibrant color is also a survival tactic.
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.
“The algae makes a light when a fish or little shrimp tries to eat it,” he told the news outlet. “That light attracts a bigger fish that can eat whatever is trying to eat the algae.”
Scripps scientists say that red tides are unpredictable and not all of them create an electric hue. They do not know how long the current one will last, but previous red tides have lasted anywhere from a week to a month or even more.
Jack Fusco, a San Diego-based photographer who captured some of the red tides’s this week, told INB that he’s been “lucky enough” to photograph the bioluminescence four times now, and offered some advice on how one can capture its beauty in a photo.
“For anyone planning on taking photos, I would definitely suggest bringing a tripod,” he said. “A long exposure will help bring out even more of the incredible blue glow in the waves!”
To check out more of Fusco’s work, check out his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Gabriela Landazuri contributed to this piece.