The video: Wide-eyed surfers in Southern California are paddling out long after sunset these days. That's because a phenomenon known as red tide that turns the ocean a reddish clay color during the day — thanks to large masses of algae — is causing something peculiar at night, too: Glow-in-the-dark waves that flash "spectacular neon blue," says Tony Barboza of the Los Angeles Times. (Watch a video below.) The "dazzling" effect is due to creatures lurking in the algae bloom: Bioluminescent phytoplankton, which have been floating along San Diego coasts since late August. When huge numbers of these tiny creatures are disturbed simultaneously — either by a crashing wave or a surfer's speeding fins — a chemical reaction takes place, emitting a flash of light that's visible at night.
The reaction: The waves look like "a night light sent from King Triton himself," says Jillian Anthony at GOOD. The whole scene is indeed a "beautiful hallucination," says Brent Rose at Gizmodo. But beware: The CDC warns that red tides can sometimes cause eye and nose irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath. So if you must ride, make sure to have "a neti pot handy." Watch surfers carve up these glowing blue waves:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 8 tricks to surviving the holidays without gaining weight or being grouchy
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- Don't blame Chuck Hagel: Obama's foreign policy has been a disaster from end to end
Subscribe to the Week