A group of sightseers taking a cruise were amazed to see dolphins glowing electric blue as they swam through bioluminescent waters in Southern California.
The lucky boaters were treated to the once-in-a-lifetime show when they headed out off the coast of Newport Beach in Orange County, in early September. Footage taken by a member of the group reveals the magical, otherworldly effect of the dolphin pod gliding through the waves, surrounded by a neon glow.
Like something out of a movie, it’s hard to fathom that the effect is created by nature.
The algal blooms of California are filled with a type of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates. The microscopic organisms look red-colored during the day, but at night, as Ms. Roames explains, when disrupted by moving objects, a chemical reaction occurs making them radiate blue.
Explaining that the spectacle is caused by photosynthetic plankton blooms, Ms. Roame said: “In the last couple of days … the waves are lit up from the bioluminescence, so when the waves are crashing that’s agitating the plankton; boats are moving through, that’s agitating them; when the dolphin and fish are swimming through it, that’s resulting in agitation, so that will stir the plankton up and create that beautiful blue glow.”
“Man-made pesticides and other chemicals people use are washing into our oceans and creating harmful algal blooms,” he said.
It's a worrying trend, and scientists at the National Ocean Service have been monitoring and studying harmful algae blooms for several years in order to determine how to detect them and forecast their location.
“The goal is to give communities advance warnings so they can adequately plan for and deal with the adverse environmental and health effects associated with these "red-tide events,” the organization says. Though not all algal blooms are harmful, it explains:
“Most blooms, in fact, are beneficial because the tiny plants are food for animals in the ocean. In fact, they are the major source of energy that fuels the ocean food web.”