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The surf takes on enchanting glow in La Jolla and Del Mar with return of bioluminesence

Bioluminesence is lighting up the surf in La Jolla Shores
(Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego )

UCSD scientists aren’t sure how long the phenomenon will last

Pretty blue neon light is once again flashing at night in the surf at La Jolla Shores and Del Mar due to bioluminesence, a periodic and hard-to-predict natural phenomenon caused by red tide.

“An instrument attached to a mooring in Del Mar is seeing higher concentrations of the phytoplankton L. polyedra, the dinoflagellate that creates the bioluminescent glow,” according to a statement issued by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The dinoflagellates produce a chemical reaction that generates fleeting flashes of light, especially in breaking surf.

It is possible that bioluminescence will appear at other local beaches. Scientists aren’t sure how long it will last. Scripps says previous episodes have lasted anywhere from one week to a month or more.

A pending change in the weather will affect the public’s ability to see the enchanting light. The National Weather Service says that a Pacific storm will move into the county by early Friday, March 4, bringing rain to the coast and valleys and snow to the mountains. The unstable weather will last into Sunday, March 6.


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