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The Waves At Southern California Beaches Are Literally Glowing, Here's Why

Glowing blue waves are creating a spectacular scene on Southern California beaches in the United States.

The bio-luminescence is known as "red tide", or an algal bloom, which is a large concentration of microorganisms in the water.

On sunny days, the water gives off a murky reddish hue, and at night, when the organisms are agitated by movements, they emit a neon blue glow.

A bioluminescent wave crashes onshore next to the San Clemente Pier on April 30. Image: Getty Images

Due to Stay-At-Home orders, many people aren’t able to experience the phenomena first hand.

Red tide can sometimes have harmful impacts on fish, marine mammals and birds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A surfer rides a bioluminescent wave at the San Clemente pier on April 30. Image: Getty.

But not all of these algal blooms are harmful and most times they actually provide food and nutrients for oceanic plants and animals, NOAA said.

It’s unclear how long the red tides will be around in Southern California, but they have been seen in San Diego since late April.

Bioluminescent waves glow off the coast of Hermosa Beach on April 25. Image: Getty.

“That term, red tide, can be conflated with harmful algae," Clarissa Anderson, Executive Director of Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System told CBS at the time.

"But really it just means that the water is colored red because there's a lot of the phytoplankton in the water."

“When you go to the beach, you see it in the waves or you see that amazing video of dolphins cutting through the water and stimulating the bioluminescence," she explained.

Image: Getty Images

"That's another example of how that shear creates that chemical reaction,” explained Anderson. “We see it in the water quite frequently, but we don't always see these major bioluminescent events.”

The red tide in Southern California is not considered harmful to humans.