Why dolphins and waves are glowing in southern California

Mysteries

Dolphins covered in biolumenescence are seen off the coast of Newport Beach, CA. (Image: newportcoastaladventure.com)

MYSTERY WIRE — One of the oddest sights you can see is happening at a southern California beach. While the beach is technically closed to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic, some are getting a look at glowing waves. More adventurous people are taking to boats to see glowing dolphins.

The effect seen here is caused by biolumenescence. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The light emitted by a bioluminescent organism is produced by energy released from chemical reactions occurring inside (or ejected by) the organism. If you’ve ever seen a firefly, you have encountered a bioluminescent organism. In the ocean, bioluminescence is not as rare as you might think. In fact, most types of animals, from bacteria to sharks, include some bioluminescent members. While the functions of bioluminescence are not known for all animals, typically bioluminescence is used to warn or evade predators), to lure or detect prey, and for communication between members of the same species.

Petapixel recently reported on this strange blue glow coming out of the waves. They reported on photographs taken by Photographer Patrick Coyne recently captured surreal looking pictures near his home in Orange County last week.

Patrick also took video of dolphins that had been swimming in the waves and had bioluminescence material on them. TIME magazine even tweeted about this video.

Patrick Coyne wrote about his experience on his Instagram feed:

Last night was truly one of the most magical nights of my life. Capt. Ryan @lawofthelandnsea of @newportcoastaladventure invited me along to capture rare video of Dolphins swimming in bioluminescence. The first time I saw this actually filmed was a few months back while watching a Night on Earth documentary on Netflix. The second I saw that footage it became a dream of mine to one day capture something similar and that’s exactly what we did. This was by far the most challenging video I’ve shot for a number of reason. For starters the bioluminescence has sweet spots to where it shows up and then fades away so while on the water it’s impossible to just find it. Not only that but actually finding any type of animal in pitch black is just so ridiculously hard. Conditions have to be absolutely perfect the bioluminescence to show up and to have an animal swim through it so we can film it. On top of all that just trying to nail the focus at such a wide aperture with something moving in the water was a nightmare. We were out for a few hours and on our final stretch back we finally had 2 Dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show. A few minutes later and we were greeted by a few more which was incredible. I’m honestly still processing this all and I can’t thank @newportcoastaladventure enough for having me out because without them none of this would be possible. Be sure to check our their edit from last night as well! I hope you all enjoy this video.

Patrick Coyne / Source: https://www.instagram.com/patrickc_la/

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