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Glowing displays of blue seen on San Diego beaches

Photo credit:
Wikimedia Commons

Colorful light displays aren’t just limited to clubs in Hillcrest this month, San Diego beaches are experiencing a red tide and that means brilliant hues of neon are filling up the water.  

Waves of neon blue are crashing onto the shore in an eerie phenomenon caused by red algae filled with phytoplankton called "dinoflagellates.”

These living organisms emit a blue glow when disturbed to scare of predators. The reaction can be triggered when a wave crashes or someone steps in the water.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego says the current red tide contains dinoflagellates called "Ceratium falcatiforme" and "Lingulodinium polyedra.”

It’s not clear how long this natural marvel will last. Past occurrences have gone on for a month or more.  

The last time beach goers got a display of this kind was 2013, that event lasted a week. Before that was in October 2011 and that one lasted a month.

This week the dinoflagellates and their mysterious glow were seen from La Jolla to Encinitas according to ABC 10.

 Although seeing the display is not guaranteed, the best time to witness red tide is at least two hours after sunset on a dark part of the beach.

Scientists say they test algae and they have found no toxins, but still encourage safety when exploring them.