Monday, October 17, 2011

My Town Monday: Glow-In-The-Dark Waves in San Diego, CA

Here's what our ocean looks like during the day...

Red Tide in San Diego (photo credit: Gary Robbins, Union-Tribune)


And here's what it looks like at night...

Bioluminescent waves (photo credit: Brian Witkin, google images)

Phytoplankton, an algae that blooms late in the summer, is lighting up our beaches thanks to a scientific phenomenon called bioluminescence. When these tiny creatures are jostled, a chemical reaction occurs at the cellular level, and, wow, a blue light flashes.


So, when a wave breaks, billions of these single-cell organisms emit blue flashes. It's kind of like a wave of fireflies. Of course, there are lots of fun ways to light up the night: run along the beach, stir the water with your foot, surf, throw water from a bucket, etc. I've even heard you can fill a bottle with sea water and flush it down your toilet.

How long will the red tide be with us? No one knows for sure. It arrived at the end of September and may suddenly leave if the weather changes and blows it out or if a bunch of salp, a small jellylike creature, drift in and eat them up or if... Then again, the red tide might stick around for a while.

But, at least for the moment, we have glow-in-the-dark waves in San Deigo!

I'm this week's hostess. If you throw up a My Town Monday post, let me know here or on the official My Town Monday blog, and I'l link to you on both.

Below are links to some interesting My-Town-Monday posts by other bloggers:

Debra of From Skilled Hands has proof of great beauty in her small Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Jeannette Marie Powell has a haunting post on Frankenstein's Tower in Dayton, Ohio. Ooooh...


Enjoy your Monday!



sources:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/sep/27/red-tide-causing-stunning-bioluminescence-san-dieg/?sciquest
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/red-tide-glows-blue-along-the-san-diego-coast-photo/2011/09/30/gIQAFGXr9K_blog.
htmlhttp://www.nctimes.com/news/local/article_27326fb7-8916-55b4-8633-829a61dc69fe.html

21 comments:

Beth said...

That second picture is beautiful. But doesn’t a red tide cause coughing? On one of only two trips to Florida, our entire family spent the vacation coughing. We were told it was due to the red tide. Within minutes of leaving the island, the coughing stopped.

(great vacation, huh?)

debra said...

I've read about the bioluminescence. Must be pretty strange to see.
And my post is up, too. It's October in my Valley

Sarakastic said...

I had no idea the ocean could do that. Good job ocean!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That is SO COOL!

Barrie said...

Beth: Hmmm.....I'm not sure. Is it possible the red tide you experienced was caused by a different algae? We do also call it a toxic red tide, but more in terms of being deadly for certain fish. People here definitely swim, surf, play in the red tide. I have read some accounts where being in the water was referred to as "uncomfortable," but mostly I've heard/read (from biologists, laymen) that there is no effect on humans. Interesting, interesting.

Barrie said...

Debra: Thanks! I'll get your link up!

Barrie said...

Green Girl: Very cool. :)

Barrie said...

Sarakastic: I will pass along your kudos. :)

AbaGayleb said...

Wow, that's beautiful.
I lived in Georgia, about an hour away from Savanna,where there was Tybee Island, a beach my family LOVED to go to.I've never seen it at night before, but during the day, it was amazing (:
I love beaches :D

Barrie said...

AbaGayle: I love beaches too. I wish I lived within walking distance. As it is, I'm about 19 miles away.

Charles Gramlich said...

bioluminescence is just cool. Would love to be at sea in a ship when it was happening.

AbaGayleb said...

Wow.
We're, now, about 6 hours away from the ocean where some of the oil spill was.My siblings went there for a Church thing, and they said it looked terrible ):

Barrie said...

Charles: Boating during the red tide would be neat. Hey, how about kayaking?!

Barrie said...

AbaGayle: So sad.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

Whoa, that's something! It sure didn't look like that when DH & I honeymooned in Carlsbad, 17 years ago. Way cool! (I think? LOL)

Barrie said...

Aww, Jeannette, you were in Carlsbad 17 years ago? We were both here at the same time! And we may not have been experiencing a red tide when you were here. This year is an incredible bloom.

laughingwolf said...

rats, that's not good!'

before i moved back to the niagara area first of july, back in the maritimes they banned all shellfish harvesting/consumption every time the red tide hit... costly all round :(

Barrie said...

Laughingwolf: They banned shellfish harvesting/consumption due to the toxicity during the red tide? And....you're up late. Hmmm...or else really, really early. ;)

Sarah Laurence said...

Very cool to look at but unfortunate. At least in Maine, a red tide means you can't eat the seafood.

I was very pleased to hear about the blue whales return in your post below! They had a life size model hanging in the Museum of Natural History that impressed me as a child. I wonder if the algae will make them glow too. That would be quite a sight.

Travis Erwin said...

Interesting. Wonder how this affects fishing.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

That is amazing. San Diego gets everything. Here, we get gorgeous looking blue-green algae on Lake Winnipeg that's toxic to people and animals.

Can't wait to read how this wave-magic ends up in one of your books. Nature vs. human technology - nature wins again!