Bioluminescence back in Southern California: Where to see it (2024)

See dolphins in bioluminescence

Mark Girardeau captured the stunning video in Newport Beach.

LOS ANGELES - The red tide has returned, and you know what that means - bioluminescent waves are lighting up the Southern California coast a glowing blue for the first time in 2024.

Known scientifically as "lingulodinium polydra," the bioluminescent algae was most recently spotted reaching parts of Orange County earlier this week to welcome in the new year.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Bioluminescent waves return to Southern California

The phenomenon associated with the red tide - or algae bloom - is filled with dinoflagellates, which then react when moved around by the water. During the daytime, the water may be a deep red, brown, or orange color due to the pigmentation. At night is when the water turns what many describe as "electric blue."

"I remember wanting to see this phenomenon years ago and it was one of the top things on my bucket list. Now I've gotten to see it every night for almost a week now!" one person commented on the Facebook page dedicated to where you can see the bioluminescence in SoCal.

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Bioluminescent waves break in Huntington Beach Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

From: Getty Images

According to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, there is no public health warning associated with the red tide.

So far, enthusiasts shared photos of the bioluminescence from several hotspots including Long Beach, Huntington Beach - specifically Goldenwest, Pacific Coast Highway and 17th Street, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Seal Beach.

Videographer Patrick Coyneeven was even lucky enough to see porpoises swimming in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

"The start of 2024 has already been absolutely incredible! We found bioluminescence last night both in Huntington and Newport Beach! The waves were some of the brightest I’ve ever seen and I again was able to film dolphins swimming in it in the distance! I’ll be out again tonight and will update everyone if I find anything on my story."

While there's no particular way to know when or where the bioluminescent waves will light up, some people recommend the best time to venture out for a glimpse is between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

"What I’ve noticed with this outbreak is that the bio doesn’t really start coming out till after 10pm - it seems like they have their own internal clock on when to turn on," one person commented.

"Depends on time of high tide. The higher tide brings them closer to shore," another said.

One fellow bioluminescence watcher even shared some tips to others: walk down to the shoreline, let your eyes adjust, and watch for bigger sets every 30 minutes.

"It takes time for the outside sets to break. It’s not in the shorebreak. We’ve been here for an hour and have seen three big sets that were really good. Give it some time," the tip read. "It’s not super bright here but it is there."

The last time bioluminescence was spotted in the region was back in Sept. 2023.

Good luck!

Bioluminescence back in Southern California: Where to see it (2024)

FAQs

Bioluminescence back in Southern California: Where to see it? ›

The most common places for bioluminescent waves to occur in Southern California are in San Diego, specifically at Mission Beach, La Jolla Shores, and Blacks Beach.

Where can I see bioluminescence in Southern California? ›

So far, enthusiasts shared photos of the bioluminescence from several hotspots including Long Beach, Huntington Beach - specifically Goldenwest, Pacific Coast Highway and 17th Street, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Seal Beach.

Is there bioluminescence in California right now in 2024? ›

San Diego Bioluminescence 2024 💙 It's back! Spotted along the county beaches for the past three days. It's visible during high tide when large waves crash, so prepare a blanket and chair for optimal viewing, especially since it's past midnight.

Where is the bioluminescence in Orange County? ›

Prime locations to witness the bioluminescence in Orange County include Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point Harbor. However, while these areas are known hotspots, sightings are not guaranteed, and the intensity of bioluminescent displays can heavily vary from night to night.

When to see bioluminescence in San Diego? ›

When can you see bioluminescence in San Diego? First things first, it needs to be dark to see bioluminescence. Lucas says the organisms do not glow if they encounter light. The natural phenomenon can happen at almost any time of the year, Lucas explained.

What beach in LA has bioluminescent? ›

Nature photographer Mark Girardeau, who runs Orange County Outdoors, told USA Today that the phenomenon has been ongoing, with the highest concentration being in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach areas. The light is as “bright as it was in 2020,” said Girardeau.

How often does bioluminescence occur in Southern California? ›

The not-so-typical tranquil Pacific Ocean transforms into a peaceful, mesmerizing canvas of lights created by breaking waves into areas of high algae. While it has been occurring every year for the past three or four years in San Diego and other parts of Southern California, it is quite rare near the shoreline.

What month is best for bioluminescence? ›

Bioluminescence season can begin as early as late May or June, but the peak of the bioluminescence season is between July and September. Booking your tour during a new moon will amplify the glittering water and shimmering stars. Other factors that may affect the glow are rain and storms.

Does Malibu have bioluminescence? ›

MALIBU, CA — Bioluminescent waves have returned to the Southern California coast, drawing hundreds of residents to the beach after dusk in hopes of experiencing the natural phenomenon before it disappears.

How do you know if bioluminescence is gonna happen? ›

The bioluminescent sea will glow when it's disturbed by a wave breaking or a splash in the water at night. Algae bloom sea sparkle events are caused by calm and warm sea conditions. But you can see specks of bioluminescence when it's created nearby by a light-producing marine creature.

Does Laguna Beach have bioluminescence? ›

The bioluminescence waves, which turn the ocean red during the day and glow neon blue night, have been reported at multiple California city coasts including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Long Beach the past week.

What beach has the most bioluminescence? ›

1. Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico. Hidden on the southern coast of Vieques, off the east coast of mainland Puerto Rico, this narrow inlet widens into a dolphin-shaped bay of mangroves that protects the brightest occurrence of bioluminescence in the world according to Guinness World Records.

Is there a red tide in Southern California? ›

The spring of 2020 saw one of Southern California's most prolific red tides on record, and while the bioluminescence left beaches from Santa Barbara down through Baja California with ravishing visual displays at night, the algal inundation – more of a chocolate-brown than a crimson-red– resulted in graver consequences ...

Is there bioluminescence in San Diego in 2024? ›

Updated on February 16, 2024 at 9:17 pm. NBC Universal, Inc. San Diego hobbyist photographer Vishwas Lokesh captured the bioluminescence at several beaches throughout the county. If you've been to one of San Diego County's beaches over the last few nights, you may have noticed that bioluminescent waves are back.

Which beach glows at night? ›

1. Puerto Mosquito, Vieques, Puerto Rico. Located on the southern shore of the island of Vieques is one of the most stunning bioluminescent beaches in the world. The neon blue bay is truly a staggering sight to behold.

Can you see bioluminescence in the bay Area? ›

Tomales Bay is one of the more popular bodies of water in which to see bioluminescence, but bioluminescence can be seen anywhere along the National Seashore's coastline.

Which beach has the best bioluminescence? ›

1. Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico. Hidden on the southern coast of Vieques, off the east coast of mainland Puerto Rico, this narrow inlet widens into a dolphin-shaped bay of mangroves that protects the brightest occurrence of bioluminescence in the world according to Guinness World Records.

Can you see the bioluminescence in Malibu? ›

The bioluminescence waves, which turn the ocean red during the day and glow neon blue night, have been reported being seen at multiple California city coasts including Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Oxnard, Malibu, and San Diego coastlines over the past week.

Where can I see bioluminescence in the bay Area? ›

Tomales Bay is a hotspot for bioluminescence. A narrow inlet that's about 15 miles long, Tomales Bay separates Point Reyes and the Marin Coastline. The area is home to abundant wildlife, including shorebirds, elephant seals, and migratory gray whales.

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