Bioluminescence from red tide: Algae bloom literally lighting up San Diego waves at night

A red tide offshore San Diego is bringing a spectacular display of to beaches at night, as captured in this photo by John H. Moore. Scripps scientist Michael Latz said the red tide is due to massive numbers of dinoflagellates including Lingulodinium polyedra. The Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System is monitoring the phytoplankton community weekly at Scripps Pier and has seen the ebb and flow of these dinoflagellate blooms for years. In 2010 and 2011, there were record numbers of L. polyedra. The last time we saw a massive bioluminescent event like this was in September 2013. They are often connected to internal wave activity from the deep-water canyons off La Jolla, which Drew Lucas and colleagues are monitoring with fiber optic cable and wire walkers.

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