- Bioluminescence at work in the Pacific Ocean. Music by The Ruse, who you might know from a cameo on MTV's
Come swim the scenic beaches of California! The color of week-old blood by day, glowing blue at night like an exposed reactor core, they're the most post-apocalyptic waters the Pacific has to offer!
For the past two months, a kind of phytoplankton known as Lingulodinium polyedrum (Wikipedia: "described by Professor Peter Franks of Scripps Institute of Oceanography as brussel sprouts covered in wooden armor that move around a lot") has claimed San Diego's coastline as its own, producing a long-lasting "red tide" bloom. Red-tide algae can remove the oxygen and sunlight from water, killing fish, and may produce toxins that cause the human sensory system to reverse the feelings of hot and cold. However, this species is relatively benign, carrying only a slight risk of sinus and ear infections, according to the L.A. Times.
And they are spectacular to behold. Take a peek at what the Pacific looked like last week after the sun had set:
The motion of the waves is agitating the algae, making the sensitive single-celled organisms chemically react and emit bursts of azure light. Taken together, the bioluminescent blips make the ocean look as if somebody had just dropped a mountain-sized toaster in it. Truly electrifying! By day, the algae just turn the waters dull red.
Here are more views of the red-tide bioluminescence from the San Diego Flickr pool. And because I know this is on everyone's mind, yes, people are night-surfing in this stuff. A video follows the jump.
(Videos courtesy of Man's Best Media.)