Written By: Krystal Sepulveda
Due to phytoplankton called "dinoflagellates,” jolting when crashing into tides have resulted in a reaction, causing bioluminescent waves. Now you must be asking “What is bioluminescence?”. Bioluminescence occurs through a chemical reaction that produces light energy within an organism's body. For a reaction to occur, a species must contain luciferin (Which is a molecule, so when it reacts with oxygen, produces light). So basically the ocean's waves light up to a bright electric blue in the night time. The water gives off a murky reddish hue, and at night, when the organisms are agitated by movements, they emit a neon blue glow
This Breathtaking event first started when Christopher Columbus referred to mysterious lights in the water before reaching San Salvador Tropical fireflies in the east that were seen by Sir Frances Drake. The last time this bright light show appeared was in 2011. Sadly, due to Stay at home orders, many people couldn't witness the view first hand, with beaches being closed.
But recently the beaches have officially been reopened, and many people have been able to see this natural phenomenon, including me. Though this is a magnificent sight, many people have been asking questions if the water is harmful or toxic. According to Ph.D.; Senior researcher Maria Sinetova, “ It may be a signal of danger. Many of the species in this group are toxic. If dinoflagellates reproduce rapidly, they may cause so-called ‘red tides’. ... Some species, such as the sea sparkle (Noctiluca scintillans) are not”.
Now your question might be “where can I see this view?”. The glowing waves are located along the southern California coastline. Some areas have been crowded with people trying to get a glimpse at the phenomenon.
It was a Sunday afternoon during quarantine, when all of sudden, my family decided to take a night trip to Imperial Beach. Supposedly my mom and sister heard about the glowing waves from the news and wanted to go see them. At the moment I was pretty worried because of the current virus, but we made sure that everybody took masks, hand sanitizer, and latex gloves. To be honest, I didn't believe it, glowing waves? I've seen the videos, but I convinced myself not to trust them, and tell myself it was fake. As we got closer, to my surprise, the beach was crowded, at 9 pm. I brushed away the thought and continued to get ready to get out of the car. Not many people were wearing masks and keeping their distance, but my family made sure to stay cautious. Getting closer to the water, my heart dropped and my eyes grew big. I turn to my siblings and watch their faces as they gazed at the waves in awe. We get closer to the water and just stand there, speechless. There are no words to explain the number of feelings I had at the time. The moment was just right. There was a slight breeze, but not strong enough to make us cold, the smell of salt filling my lungs (Even with the mask on) and the sound of the calming waves crashing. I thought I was in a dream, Everything felt so unreal. I looked around again and saw more people around us just standing there. I was happy, my family was happy. I remember at that time, I thought to myself; “Nothing can take this moment away from me”. We watched the crash of the neon blue light into itself from the waves, and it seemed like experiencing it for the first time, over and over, and over again, and I never got tired of it. After a few minutes passed by, my mom decided to take a group family picture with the wave in the background. As we parted our ways we individually got some shots of the view. While taking off my glove, I got closer to the water, and touched it, and to be surprised to feel that it was warm. I then said to myself, “ Life is good”. I ran around with my siblings, chasing the water and running back as it raced towards us. I enjoyed our time. The night that was filled with Ooo’s and Ahhh’s finally came to an end, and I will forever remember that night.
The Biolumescence waves in Imperial Beach. Photo by Khristina Sepulveda
This is Krystal Sepulveda! She is currently a junior at Olympian High school and is a journalist for the 2019-2020 yearbook term. Krystal loves to write stories about her personal life and the exciting events she experiences. When it comes to writing, she's very passionate about expressing herself through storytelling, filming, and art. She believes that she has a spark that makes her unique and different. You can always find her daydreaming about unusual ideas that go in her head throughout the day. She loves to document her experiences because She wants to share the same encounters that she had with her audience by helping them visualize and feel that same way she did in that exact moment as if they witnessed it themselves. Apart from that, Krystal loves to spend time with her family, sewing, and more