A fisherman off South Padre Island, Texas, captured an unusual phenomenon this week: ocean water glowing with a blue phosphorescent light.
Fishing guide Rene Lopez posted a video on social media that showed the water flashing a luminescent blue as his boat moved through it.
“I was coming into the marina, and I turned around and looked out the side of my boat and saw the prop wash and this glowing blue water,” Lopez told KRIS-TV. “I see it almost every year, but every year is different and this year was really intense, he said.”
The glow is caused by bioluminescent algae, a unique and natural phenomenon that causes the waters to glow, according to officials at Padre Island National Seashore.
Tiny dinoflagellates or single-cell algae produce the light by a chemical process known as bioluminescence, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.
The so-called “glowing plankton” light up when they’re disturbed, Deanna Erdner, a professor of marine science with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, told KRIS.
“It’s basically the equivalent of being bumped, Erdner said. “If a person swims through the water and that makes the algae move or if a boat prop goes through, it causes the water to move which causes the algae to move which sort of physically disturbs them, and then you get this production of light, or light flash. That’s the bioluminescence,” she said.
The algae are not harmful and won’t be around much longer.
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