Why Do Waves Glow During Red Tide, Exactly?

Why Do Waves Glow During Red Tide, Exactly?

Every so often, our coastal waters take on a peculiar shade of rusty brown or burnt burgundy – indicating what is known as a “red tide”. The ocean becomes uncharacteristically murky, sometimes accompanied by a soupy consistency, and at night the waves take on a psychedelic shade of blue that seems to glow in the dark.

In simplest terms, a red tide or ‘harmful algae bloom’ (HAB) occurs when colonies of algae get just the right amount of nutrients and sunlight to grow at a rapid rate along the coastline. The more discolored the water, the more these microorganisms have proliferated and the denser the colony.

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