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19 Sep 2016
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Environment & Nature

The Answer:  Bioluminescent Plankton 

Some life can produce light through a chemical process in their bodies called bioluminescence.  Bioluminescence happens when certain chemicals mix together and produce energy which generates light, hence the glow you see in the videos below. 

Plankton are drifting organisms that live in the ocean and provide a vital source of food for marine life.  They are also one of the creatures in which bioluminescence is very high.  Therefore, if you see a glowing blue light on your Outer Banks vacation you're either witnessing bioluminescent plankton or you're about to meet an alien (prepare for a two finger handshake).


It's common for scuba divers to run into these creatures (bioluminescent plankton, not aliens) and they sometimes can even be seen on the beach making your footsteps sparkle. 

See the videos below for the most recent occurrence of bioluminescent plankton on the Outer Banks from Kenyon Productions as well as a San Diego surfer riding a glowing wave.  


Bioluminescent Phytoplankton on the Outer Banks, 2016


Surfing the Red Tide in San Diego - Bioluminescence

Waves are great even when they don't glow.  Book an Outer Banks beach vacation today.