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
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 10 things you need to know today: July 26, 2014
- The week's best photojournalism
- How to cook a perfect rib eye steak
Subscribe to the Week