‘Sea sparkle’ dazzles Southern California beachgoers with natural light show

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The phenomenon known as “sea sparkle” has been lighting up the Southern California coastline in recent days. The shimmering neon glow is caused by living microscopic organisms that naturally emit light. Photo credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The coastline of Southern California has been putting on a nightly show. Crashing waves are lighting up a neon blue as they roll in. Sometimes called “sea sparkle,” the display is the result of tiny microscopic organisms that are bioluminescent.

Marine biologist Michael Latz says the glowing microorganisms that create the electric blue waves use their light for defense. Photo courtesy of Michael Latz.



  • Michael Latz - Marine biologist with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego