May 15, 2024 - News

Bioluminescent surfing in La Jolla returns as surfers catch glowing waves

A surfer riding a glowing wave at night.

A surfer rides a bioluminescent wave at Torrey Pines State Beach. GIF: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

UC San Diego surfers have been catching glowing waves over the past week.

Why it matters: The bloom of bioluminescent plankton returned to La Jolla, putting on another nighttime light show in the water during the red tide that can last days or months.

The intrigue: The natural phenomenon draws people to San Diego beaches at night, but it can also cause mass mortality among fish and other marine life by creating low or excess oxygen and unstable pH levels.

Between the lines: La Jolla — specifically, Scripps Pier — is a good place to view bioluminescence because there is very little light pollution on the north side of the pier, Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Melissa Carter told Axios.

  • People can easily miss the dim, blue light in other coastal areas because of the bright lights from hotels, piers and other nighttime attractions.

Driving the news: The UCSD surf team and club earlier this week went out to Torrey Pines State Beach and Gliderport, where the bioluminescence was visible from shore.

What they're saying: "What a crazy beautiful planet. Aurora followed by bioluminescence, surreal!" Jepsen wrote on Instagram with his photos.

  • We couldn't agree more.
Holding their boards, surfers look out at glowing waves from a cliff.
UCSD surfers at Torrey Pines Gliderport. Photo: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego
A surfer catches a glowing wave.
A surfer catches a wave lit up by bioluminescent plankton. Photo: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego
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