Monday, July 11, 2011

"Red Tide" bioluminescence phenomenon

Eye-Catching Bioluminescent Wonders - Red Tide [LiveScience 2011-07-08]

Tide Lightshow
Credit: Matt Catalano |

The "red tide" bioluminescence phenomenon — when waves of water appear to glow neon green, blue from within — is actually caused by millions of tiny organisms called dinoflagellates. These are a subcategory of plankton, which are single-celled marine organisms that are capable of photosynthesis. An overgrowth of these organisms causes visible patches to "bloom" on the water's surface in red, yellow, brown, red or even black colors during the day. But at night, the concentration of bioluminescent plankton lights up as it washes ashore with the tide. The mysterious glow comes from the dinoflagelletes reacting to being disturbed. When the tiny organisms are bothered, they produce a light that lasts for a fraction of a second. The flash serves to surprise predators and possibly attract other predators to the creature disturbing the dinoflagellate, which will likely cause the original offender to leave the plankton alone.

Source: LiveScience -

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