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Sep-03-2014 22:36printcommentsVideo

Rare Video of Glowing Phytoplankton on Oregon Coast

A summer swim turns into a glowing experience!

glowing phytoplankton
The glowing in the water occurs when the swimmer causes the phytoplanktons to "fire off". Photo/Video by Angelina Martin

(NEHALEM BAY, Ore.) - Angelina Martin of Portland acquired some extremely rare video of a fantastic phenomenon on the Oregon coast that virtually no one knows about. She recently caught the glowing phytoplankton – which is downright impossible to photograph. But she caught it on video.

It’s also a sign you may find what is known as “glowing sand” along the coast right now – an absolutely stunning sight, but too faint to be photographed when on the sand. At least, here in Oregon.

These glowing phytoplankton are somewhat rare on Oregon’s coast.

The video is of Angelina's friend Ellie swimming in the Nehalem Bay, which causes the phytoplanktons to fire off.

The cause is a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates: nearly-microscopic plant-creatures that are bioluminescent, like fireflies. They give off a sudden glow when their cell wall is touched.

In fact, WW2 boats could spot incoming missiles from subs by the ghostly trails they would leave in the water.

They show up in the sand as tiny, greenish-bluish sparks, mostly in wet sand that is near where the tide is at that moment. You'll need to find a very dark beach at night, with no light interference from street lights or the moon.

Rub your feet in the sand, going backwards, and as the sand kicks up you'll see tiny flashes of light.

If you're really lucky, they'll be lurking in a pool of water and what you'll see is a sudden galaxy of teeny stars explode under your foot.

This time of year generally increases your chances of seeing it, though it can be hit and miss. It comes and goes quickly. The fact there were this many in Nehalem Bay suggests a heavy presence on the nearby beaches.

There is more about that here and when and how to find it:


Video credit: Angelina Martin of Portland

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