What is causing the waves in California to glow?
It looks like something from the movie "Avatar": ocean waters that light up like neon glow sticks when they splash. Beaches across southern California have recently been alight with eerie, glowing waves. What could be causing such an otherworldly phenomenon? A recent report by Discovery News has provided an answer. According to marine biologist Jorge Ribas, the glowing is caused by a massive red tide, or algae bloom, of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum. The microorganisms emit light in response to stress, such as when a wave crashes into the shore, a surfboard slashes through the surf, or a kayaker's paddle splashes the water. The phenomenon has been observed on a semi-regular basis since at least 1901 along the beaches around San Diego, Calif. For surfers who don't mind catching a wave in water teeming with a sludge of microorganisms, the glowing ocean offers the chance of a lifetime.