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Weird Wednesday: Is That Beach Glowing?


Does anything beat a day at the beach? The sun, the waves, the particles of sand you find wedged in strange places months later, what’s not to love? There are some beaches, however, that actually get better once the sun goes down.

What is a bioluminescent beach?

From Hong Kong to California, bioluminescent beaches shine bright blue at night thanks to phytoplankton, which float aimlessly on the surface of the water. When jostled by the waves or marine life, the plankton emit a bright blue light caused by protons and electrical pulses. The goal is to scare away fish and other predators who are in search of a tasty snack.

Found in saltwater exclusively, these plankton cause the surface of the water to glow with cool bands of blue light. Power boats are too noisy and disruptive, but for those with boats like kayaks or canoes, paddling through it at night is an experience not many get to have. The blue effect is very calming and a much different perspective than watching the waves during the day. 

RELATED: South America’s Best Beaches

What exactly are Plankton?

bioluminescent beaches

Jellyfish are actually a type of plankton | Photo by Francis Taylor on Unsplash

If all you know about plankton comes from watching Spongebob, here’s a little refresher on what these tiny animals actually are. The term “plankton” is an umbrella term used to describe a number of different microscopic and visible animals which float in our oceans and seas. In fact, jellyfish are just another form of plankton. The word comes from the Greek adjective planktos which means errant, wanderer or drifter. They generally let the water take them whichever way it happens to flow. 

Bioluminescent beaches can be found all over the United States and the world, including California, Florida, Puerto Rico, Australia, Vietnam and more. While most are more interested in hitting the beach during the day, nighttime offers a far more unique experience. If you’re on a cruise vacation, or any kind of trip and you find out there is a  bioluminescent beach nearby, we suggest you pack your flashlight and go check it out!

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