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Microscopic plants illuminated San Diego waves as beaches reopened in California.
Beachgoers witnessed the glowing neon waves at night caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton called L. poly. The phenomenon happens from time to time on the beaches of southern California. However, locals say that the waves this year are considered to be the most vibrant in a decade.
According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the phytoplankton emit light as a defense mechanism against predators.
A report by the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) revealed that beaches in the area have been experiencing a prolonged marine heatwave for the last five years. The warmer temperatures of the ocean caused the phytoplankton to reproduce rapidly. While some phytoplankton blooms produce harmful toxins, L. poly are harmless and non-toxic to humans.
Blooms can last from a few days to a few months, and the phytoplankton bloom in San Diego has already been visible for over three weeks.
California reopened beaches after a month-long closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures have been introduced, so people can stay safe while visiting beaches.
With a lot of visitors coming to the beach to witness the bioluminescent attraction, one San Diego resident expressed concern that social distancing measures are not being properly followed. The resident has complained about the large number of people on the beach and has asked authorities to limit the number of people there at one time.