SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — Bioluminescence is back! For the past few nights, lucky San Diegans at Torrey Pines State Beach and Ponto Beach got a glimpse of bioluminescent waves crashing on the coast.
Although it’s not something you see everyday, Southern California is no stranger to the unique phenomenon.
In early January, sightings of bioluminescence were frequent enough in the Los Angeles area that wave watching tours starting offering night cruises.
In San Diego in November 2023, photographer Vishwas Lokesh captured bioluminescent waves at La Jolla Shores and Torrey Pines State Beach.
Back in September 2023, a lucky few aboard a whale watching cruise a caught a glimpse of dolphins swimming through neon waters.
It may look out of this world, but what is it caused by? The blue light that can be seen is caused by chemical reactions of bioluminescent organisms that live in the ocean. NOAA says many animals — like bacteria, sharks, squid, jellyfish, crustaceans and algae — have some bioluminescent family members.
Ever seen a firefly? Well that’s a form of bioluminescence, just on land.
Typically the blue color is caused by bioluminescent dinoflagellates, a type of plankton that can cause the surface of the ocean to glow at night.
Mark Girardeau, along with a friend, captured these photos and videos of bioluminescence at Torrey Pines Beach and Ponto Beach in San Diego County Monday night.
A red tide is a “bloom” of phytoplankton, according to the California Sea Grant. A “bloom” happens when group of phytoplankton, in this case dinoflagellates, begins reproducing rapidly. A red tide is visible during the day and creates a blue glow when churned up at night.
Girardeau told FOX 5 the glowing blue waves have been visible for the past few nights and that they seem to be getting more vibrant, which means they could be around for a little while longer for anyone wanting to see it.
Torrey Pines State Beach is located just north of La Jolla along Highway 101.
Red tides can happen anywhere in the world, but in California it’s most frequently seen between Santa Barbara and San Diego. California Sea Grant says they are typically are seen the most between February and September.
Red tides can stick around for days, and sometimes even months, depending on a number of variables, and favor warmer and calmer waters.
So now the question is will you be able to see it this week? Send us your photos online here.