The glowing blue waves that enchanted Morro Bay last fall have reappeared on the Central Coast — this time near Big Sur.
The phenomenon — caused by tiny, single-cell organisms that emit a flash of light when they perceive predators — recently caught the eye of several Monterey-area photographers.
George Krieger, who lives in Seaside, said he was relaxing with his camera one evening when he saw the glowing waves.
“When I got there, I saw a little blue in the waves, and then I started seeing more and more of it,” he said.
Michael Latz, a bioluminescence researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, told The Tribune in October that the glow is created by bioluminescent dinoflagellates. A chemical reaction creates a blue-green light that’s meant to startle predators or attract other creatures to threaten the predators, he said.
Breaking waves can also stimulate the dinoflagellates’ light reaction, which appears more blue in photos because it triggers cameras’ blue color chips, Latz said.
“They’re always around, but sometimes they get more abundant,” he said.
Krieger captured several images of the blue glow near the Bixby Creek Bridge. After he posted the images on Facebook, CNN, Reuters and other news outlets began contacting him to ask about his photos.
Although Krieger said he’s rarely seen bioluminescent waves, the Big Sur coast is full of similar natural beauty.
“This is Big Sur at its normal,” he said.