Red Tide at Night, Pacifica's Delight [PHOTOS]

Patch readers capture Pacifica's nighttime phenomenon: glow-in-the-dark waves.

Pacifica's beaches are captivating many with bioluminescent glow-in-the-dark waves, a sight that's almost too eerie to believe.

The electric blue glow is caused by an algae bloom commonly referred to as a “red tide.” The microscopic, red algae, a phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum, has bloomed since late August, turning the water a brownish-red color in the daytime.

The color is caused by a chemical reaction that results from the movement of the algae. Move a whole lot of algae at once and a brilliant flash of light becomes visible.

How much longer the blue surf will last is unknown. Plumes of the brownish-red water can still be seen drifting up and down the coast with the ocean currents.

Red tide is not generally dangerous but can cause certain respitory irritations in some people such as surfers and ocean swimmers who breathe the air close to the surface of the water, according to U.S. Ocean Safety officials. Red tide also contributes to levels of toxicity in shellfish, which filter the ocean water through their bodies to feed on microscopic ocean life. It can smell bad, too.

Still, it's the greenish glow of phosphorescence that makes a red tide so extraordinary (and bearable for those who don't like surfing in it). The brilliant light show of turquoise glowing waves breaking along the shoreline at night is a sight to behold.

Share your glow-in-the-dark wave photos here by uploading them to this article.

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Patty Sambrailo October 16, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Sure hope everyone who can goes out to see this.. it is beautiful! And right in our own backyard!!!
Julie Lancelle October 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Great photos and explanation. Thanks so much.
Michele McGee October 16, 2012 at 04:39 PM
My daughter was able to reproduce the illumination at home last night. She collected ocean water from Linda Mar beach in a clear plastic bottle. At home, in a dark room while vigorously shaking the bottle, the glow appeared. It was a great home science project.
Christa Bigue (Editor) October 16, 2012 at 04:44 PM
That's a great idea, Michele! Thanks for sharing it.
Stephanie Benoit October 16, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Great shots! What camera/film did you use because ordinary cameras don't quite catch the beauty?
VoiceofNorm October 17, 2012 at 03:25 AM
It's been decades since I've seen this phenom. As a kid in Hawaii this occurred a couple of times at night on the beach- it was so magical Thanks for reporting it out ! !
Joe Kromer October 18, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Anyone know if the Red Tide is still there? Thinking of driving up tonight to see it.


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