This past May brought a brilliant display of bioluminescence and many spectators to the beaches along the San Diego coast—from our campus shores all the way up to Encinitas. According to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the colorful culprit is a red tide, or a dense bloom of microscopic dinoflagellates. During the day, the organisms swim upward for light, creating a thin reddish layer near the surface, while at night they can glow neon blue when there is movement or a disruption in the water.

If you happened to miss this dazzling display, visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps to see the glow-in-the-dark superpowers of sea creatures in Oddities: Hidden Heroes of the Scripps Collections, a new comic-book inspired exhibit!

Photo: Erik Jepsen ’10, UC San Diego Publications