Bioluminescent waves glow in the dark at Santa Cruz County beach

Bay Area

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Bioluminescence is creating a magical sight along a stretch of Santa Cruz County coastline. For the past few nights at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, waves have been glowing with a beautiful blue light.

Photographer Johnny Chien shot amazing images of the neon waves, which he described as “nature’s light show.” “I was out there for four hours soaking it all in until the moon set below the horizon,” he said.

The light is created by a bloom of bioluminescent phytoplankton. A bloom usually occurs when the ocean has an influx of nutrients, followed by a calm period that allows the water to stratify (form layers). In these concentrated layers, the phytoplankton illuminate in response to motion (such as a wave crashing on shore).

Glowing waves
Photo by Johnny Chien
Photo by Johnny Chien
Photo by Johnny Chien

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