Dolphins seem to glow neon blue, leaving trails of light as they swim through the bioluminescence in Newport Beach, California. The animals were filmed bursting through the illuminated waters on April 22nd, 2020 by photographer Patrick Coyne, who writes:
Conditions have to be absolutely perfect for the bioluminescence to show up and to have an animal swim through it so we can film it… We were out for a few hours and on our final stretch back we finally had 2 Dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show.
The boat also creates a neon blue wake. But why is the water bioluminescent? Sea Sparkle! Learn about the single-celled coastal algae that create this glowing phenomenon when they’re disturbed. From ScienceAlert:
In coastal regions, bioluminescence is caused by microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates. These tiny marine “fire plants” are members of the plankton family and they are quite sensitive to movement of any sort.
So much so, that when they are poked or prodded by a predator, each cell emits a flash of light lasting up to 100 milliseconds, almost like a burglar alarm. If there’s a whole bunch of algae concentrated together, as Coyne’s video shows, a flip of the fin can lead to quite the show.
This 2011 Discovery video explains more about the plankton: