Lying Media Bastards

May 30, 2005

Nature’s All Weird & Shit

We have a red tide going on in San Diego right now.

Red tides are a sudden surge in a particular type of plankton in a particular stretch of coastline. It turns the water a reddish/brownish color. But these plankton are bioluminescent, so when waves agitate them at night, they light up. I’ve been down to the beach the past two nights, and see the whitewash of the breaking waves glow blueish-green, or even a couple times when a section of wave seem to flash electric blue.

If you live in southern California near the ocean, I’d say it’s worth a look.

Posted by Jake on May 30, 2005 10:15 pm


  1. ooh. Those are freaky but pretty. I think the last time I saw it was when I was visiting my family in San Diego. I went to Coronado with a cousin and we thought we were seeing things as we stepped on the sand and our footprints glowed. It was so freaking beautiful but weird. I miss San Diego at times like this — and also grunion time. hehe.

    Comment by margaret — May 31, 2005 @ 10:37 am

  2. Thats bad ass, I’m going to check this out tonight.

    Comment by Grimtrekkie — May 31, 2005 @ 1:04 pm

  3. me too

    Comment by Roger — May 31, 2005 @ 6:07 pm

  4. still happening in la jolla shores. was there today and it was nasty. but not at scripps. just by the main shores tower.

    Comment by Jose — June 18, 2005 @ 6:30 pm

  5. Still happening at La Jolla Shores. Just saw it last night. Awesome! Though only by the main tower (or lifeguard tower 32).

    Comment by Jason — June 21, 2005 @ 9:40 am

  6. I saw it in Solana beach from the cliffs last night and it was stunning. It’s Gonyaulax phytoplankton. They give off light to scare predators.

    Comment by Spencer — June 23, 2005 @ 9:32 pm

  7. I went to see the light show tonight - how kool! but Please remember that Red Tide can make you AND you dog sick! Do not let your dog each anything on the beach. They can die from it.

    Comment by DonnaSD — June 23, 2005 @ 11:53 pm

  8. For all you surfers, get some buddies together and surf the red tide at night. I went out at midnight with a nice moon and electric blue waves on a decent swell the other night. The water you paddle in explodes with light all around you and you can see small fish darting around leaving trails of color underwater. Riding the actual glowing waves is unreal. Definitely a life experience well worth staying up for.

    Comment by Jed — June 25, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

  9. Saw this tonight in San Clemente on the cliffs to the left of the pier…AWESOME!!!! Definately worth a trip to the beach!

    Comment by Joey — June 25, 2005 @ 11:05 pm

  10. The phytoplankton that cause the red tide in San Diego have not been proven to make either fish or people ill. It’s not quite like the red tide on the east coast which can be lethal.

    Comment by Rachel — June 27, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

  11. i saw the red tide about 3 years ago in del mar …i want to go again really bad,….is it still going?

    Comment by Lindsey — June 28, 2005 @ 6:53 pm

  12. checked it out last night at la jolla shores. definitely worth going out there.

    Comment by smp — July 1, 2005 @ 4:15 pm

  13. I’ve seen the red tide twice before. It’s amazing. We went out in a boat in it. Everyone I told thought I was crazy. I’d love to see it again, so where’s the best spot right now along the SO Cal coast?

    Comment by Denise — July 1, 2005 @ 10:12 pm

  14. I was at Carlsbad Beach last late night and the waves looked electric, they were lighting up like a fluorescent life! I’ve never seen anything like it! I thought I was seeing things,
    then I heard about the red tides. Amazing!

    Comment by Debbie — July 4, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

  15. Carlsbad was pumping blue whitewater waves last night. It was neon neon blue and the larger the wave the brigher it was. Not like anything else you have ever seen. It kicked butt on the fireworks at Oceanside Pier and Camp Pendleton

    Comment by Dan The Water Man — July 5, 2005 @ 6:28 pm

  16. Couldn’t see it at ocean beach. TOo much
    light i think. But i took some ocean water
    and put it into a big jug. i took it home,
    and turned off all the lights and made it
    really dark. THen if you shake the bottle it
    lights up. Also you can pour vinager into it.
    It will make all of them light at once so the
    entire bottle will glow blue for a couple

    Comment by zack — July 6, 2005 @ 8:46 am

  17. I was at the Oceanside Harbor July 4th and took my kids there last night. If you go on the dock and stomp hard you can see all the fish move. It’s badass. The kids got a kick out of it. There are a bunch of very tiny things in the water that move around and glow, it looks like little pieces of dust are alive. Watching all the boats come back in from the firework show was cool too. They looked like those little rice burners with the neon lights under them.

    Have fun!

    Comment by Keithster — July 7, 2005 @ 9:02 am

  18. Went to the Del Mar Beach in Camp Pendleton last night and it was one fantastic light show! Amazingly beautiful at night. Very bright blue glow.

    It was so cool I am thnking of going again tonight

    Comment by jetman — July 9, 2005 @ 6:47 am

  19. I drove down to San Clemente State Beach tonight to see the red tides. It still amazes me everytime I see it. The glow of the waves crashing on the rip currents is a freak of nature. And my footprints glowing in the sand freaked me out too. I wish I had a brought a jar with me. My daughters would really love to see this; I think I’ll take them down there next weekend.

    Comment by Play — July 9, 2005 @ 9:56 pm

  20. Same thing here in Long Beach for the last week or so, blue glowing waves. Trippiest thing I’ve ever seen. Then to see the wet sand glow momentarily blue when you put your feet down… damn!

    Ran across some info, unknown source:


    “Microscopic single celled (unicellular) algae called Dinoflagellates cause phosphorescence. These are present throughout the ocean, and emit light when they are mechanically disturbed, for example by a boat paddle, the arm of a swimmer or wave action. This leads to a chemical reaction within the organism, resulting in light production.
    Dinoflagellates breed all year round, however, there are a number of factors that promote growth and reproduction, these are: light, water quality, temperature, availability of nutrients, and depth or tidal exposure.
    As dinoflagellates depend on photosynthesis to get their energy for growth, light is a major factor in their survival. The intensity of phosphorescence by photosynthetic dinoflagellates is strongly influenced by the intensity of sunlight the previous day, ie. the brighter the sunlight, the brighter the flash.
    If the preceding few days are sunny, and the ocean is calm so that the dinoflagellates are not disturbed, this can result in a build up of phosphorescent ‘potential’. This build up when released can look like fireworks in the water.
    The other thing that can contribute to such a display could be a concentration of nutrients in the water, most commonly caused by runoff from pollutants, such as sewage. This results in a build up of dinoflagellates. “

    Comment by Todd Perkins — July 12, 2005 @ 2:42 am

  21. I live in Oceanside harbor, and as lately all the bad stuff has been going on there, I have aunique perspective of the red tide. It has now turned the water black, and is releasing a substance in the air that causes “respiratory irritation and gastrointestinal upset.”
    If by gastrointestinal upset they mean the intense desire to relieve oneself of their stomach contents, they sure are right about that!! It smells horrible, like iodine or something, and is now causing the fish to die.
    On another note, during fourth of July, anytime a large firecracker would let out a boom, the fish would “jump” leaving tiny trails in the water. Everyone had a good laugh out of that!

    Comment by Emily — July 18, 2005 @ 3:31 pm

  22. Laguna Beach had a red tide last night.
    The waves during the day had been small.
    At night, I glimpsed the green-blue glow of
    of phosphoresence lighting up the breaking
    waves just beneath the crashing white
    water. My wife and I also saw some brief
    flashes of light beyond the break as a
    wave cap in the distance would light up
    momentarily like a lightning strike. I
    first thought this was night divers with
    neon glow sticks. I later learned that
    we have been under alien attack for the
    last few months and that this is the
    manifestation of the invaders. In some
    places, like small dunes formed at the
    tide line, you could kick the sand and it
    would light up in the air for up to five
    or six feet in distance. It was perhaps
    the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.

    Comment by Tom 3 Subt — August 3, 2005 @ 4:31 pm

  23. I was an Bolsa Chica,CA last night for a
    picnic on the beach ,bonefire and all
    I looked at the ocean and thought my
    eyes were playing ticks on meor I was
    having a Psychic experience! then my
    whole family saw the florecent waves
    I new it had to be a natural phenomena
    my niece remained a sceptic thinking
    it was a Government cover up ,some
    sort of toxic spill. (You never know)
    I hope it is not dangerous to us Humans
    the beach patrol would let us know
    Right? August the six 2005 will go in to my diary

    I remember seeing something like this

    in a movie “Blue Lagoon”,anyone out
    their saw it with Brook shields,I thought
    it was just a special effect in the movie
    but i guess its real!

    Comment by athens — August 7, 2005 @ 11:20 am

  24. Dateline: Long Beach
    As of August 7 it was still going on. Went down on a date to the Long Beach bluffs, ate ice cream and watched the crescent moon over the ocean when all of a sudden, I saw streaks of blue light as the tiny waves crashed into shore. To make sure I wasn’t having a stroke, I turned to my date to make sure he could see the same thing I was seeing. He thought it a trick of the lights, but soon realized it was the waves themselves, or the algae in the waves, causing this show.
    Very freaky
    Very hot

    Comment by TheCarny — August 9, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

  25. I went to Newport Beach on Friday night for a bonfire and got a very unexpected surprise. The waves and sand were glowing a beautiful blue-green color! A few people in our party had heard of it before, but they didn’t know too much about it. I had never heard of it before, so I was totally amazed. It was especially fun to kick and throw the sand so it looks like lightning. I swear, it looked like something out of a Disneyland show, like fiber optics! Isn’t nature wonderful? I kept thinking of how funny it would be for some poor drunk, or otherwise intoxicated person to stumble down to the water and think they were having the coolest trip of their lives because they could see their own footprints glowing! Hee, hee.

    Comment by Vanessa — August 16, 2005 @ 10:24 am

  26. My wife and I camped out on the beach at Pt. Mugu (just North of Malibu) last week. We went out to eat late Sunday and discovered these extraordinary glowing waves upon returning to our site after sunset. A friend of mine that lived in Oaxaca, Mexico had described this phenomenon to me years ago, so I at least had some idea of what I was seeing. I attempted to capture photos and video of it, but the absence of city light made it impossible to get even a decent shot. This is definitely the most amazing natural beauty that either of us have ever seen. I thank God that we were able to experience this.

    Comment by j — September 16, 2005 @ 10:51 am

  27. My neice, Kelly and I went to the Newport Beach Wedge Friday night to see the big waves and were mesmorized by the electric blue light coming from the cresting waves. It was really beautiful. Now that I know what causes it, I will visit the beach each night there’s a red tide. Really cool!

    Comment by LuAnn — September 17, 2005 @ 12:31 pm

  28. I experienced the same thing this morning around 4:30 along with a shooting star….absolutely beautiful!

    Comment by C. Ferraro — September 17, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

  29. Yes, the neon blue waves are absolutely
    amazing! I thought I was seeing things
    at first!! I went to the beach
    with a close friend last weekend when it
    was a full moon, it was an amazing show.
    You should definetly check it out if you
    like the ocean and pretty colors!
    it was awesome, and it went on all night

    Comment by Lindze — September 23, 2005 @ 10:38 am

  30. i just had my graduation cerimony last night. the graduation party was at a beach club, after the sun whent down i noticed that the waves were glowing. its was really amazing that something like that would happen on the exact evening if my classe’s graduation. seeing that the last time it occured around where i live was 7 or 8 years ago. though last time was more intense, every step resulting in an explosion of light fanning out from your foot. last night was amazing for its timing.

    Comment by baskotoiea — June 3, 2006 @ 6:33 pm

  31. we also have electric blue waves in cornwall uk.

    Comment by paul copeman — September 24, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

  32. how long is the red tide going to last? and i also heard that these fish jump out at likeone o’clock in the morning when there is a full moon, does anyone have any details on that? i heard today (wednesday june 6th) is the last day they’ll e jumping out, i nreally want to se it but i dont know what time, i thinks around 1:30 am or something.

    Comment by aisha — June 6, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  33. hey bro i live on the central coast in nsw and a few nights ago i saw the waves have this electric fluorescent blue glow to them when they were crashin . i wanted to get my board and go ride them but it was night time. do u know what it was that was cuasing it and when i would see it again

    Comment by NARVO — August 30, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  34. Red Tide is DANGEROUS to Humans!!
    Case in point:
    An otherwise healthy senior woman (from another state) went to Panama City Beach, Florida in October. Unbeknownst to her, there was a significant outbreak of red tide at the time. She had a bit of a cough prior to coming to the beach but was not on medication or receiving any treatment for it.

    Within several days, she began to cough constantly. She and her husband couldn’t even go on the balcony without coughing. One day she took a deep breath through her mouth. When she did, something went deep into her lungs burning them all the way down! She had an immediate reaction with very tight chest and uncontrollable coughing. She coughed up BLOOD! She became congested with mucus interfering with her breathing. She struggled with little relief.

    After an x-ray showed “an infection,” she was given Levaquin. No change upon x-ray. CT scan revealed a MASS in her right lung and pericardial effusion! She went on to have other tests. She ended up in the emergency room and after being admitted, ONE LITER of fluid was drained from around her heart! She almost died then.

    Forward to now, inoperable mass in the right lung. Chemo needed. Constant cough finally under control with round-the-clock medication. Body weakened, immune system further weakened…time running out!
    RED TIDE does more than give you a runny nose and cough! Do NOT believe it when you read the affect on humans is insignificant! Can red tide unmask a tumor? Can it cause a tumor to grow rapidly? Can it lower the immune system so that fighting cancer is impossible? Can it send a woman with no known health issues into a TAIL SPIN downward and into a fight for her life????

    YES!…say her family members! We’ve watched it happen right before our eyes! Red tide is potentially LETHAL to humans!

    Why isn’t more being done? What is the REAL reason for the “hush-hush” about red tide along Florida’s coastline? Whose interests are more important…the business sect or the Florida visitors????

    Let’s put it this way….NO one wants to properly record what has happened in this case! Most want to suggest that it just can’t happen this way. Believe it…it DID happen and its not over yet!

    Contact me with your RED TIDE health issues ASAP. I want to speak to all victims of red tide toxin. Your voice must be heard loudly and clearly!
    Red Tide Toxin Victims Unite

    Comment by redtidetoxinalert — February 23, 2008 @ 12:16 am

  35. We just got back from vacation on the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama and saw this. It was absolutely AMAZING! I was telling everyone it was some sort of luminescent plankton and nobody freaking beleived me!!!! It was AMAZING!!!! I feel lucky to have seen it.

    Comment by Candace — July 14, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

  36. I am on the Alabama coast right now and I would love to see this. My husband and I saw it once in Florida on Navarre BEACH IN 1979 and it was the most amazing things I have ever seen. I am assuming it is an unpredictable occurrance. Does anyone know anything about it?

    Comment by Connie — August 6, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  37. I am Gulf Shores Alabama right now on the Gulf of Mexico and this is going on right now!!! We have a hure Hurricane brewing in the gulf right now and thought the atmospheric conditions with the phosphate in the gulf may have something to do with it…..did not know it was red tide !!!my tow sons and myself were “diggin” it and walking up and down the beach all night enjoying this phenomenon and hope to goodness i have not messed with their health in any way. But i do have to say it was / is totally awesome.

    Comment by Jon-david DiMaggio — August 30, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

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