Dolphins caught playing through bioluminescent waves near boat off Newport Beach

Even dolphins are not missing out on these bioluminescent blooms

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Dolphins were caught on camera whirling through waves of glowing blue bioluminescence off the coast of Newport Beach on Monday night.

The footage captured by Newport Coastal Adventure photographer Mark Girardeau seems almost too magical to believe. But this is no spell.

Seaward adventurers were already awestruck by the bioluminescence billowing around their motor boat when dolphins joined in on the fun, causing their jaws to drop even further.

Boater bask in the glow of bioluminescence. (Mark Girardeau)

At least three dolphins were caught on camera swirling through the electric blue water.

The mammals joyously weaved trails of luminous plankton in their wake, almost as if showing off for the boat riders.

Red tides and bioluminescent waves have been seen all along Southern California's coast lately including in San Diego.

A boat leaves a trail of bioluminescence in Newport Beach. (Mark Girardeau)
The phytoplankton glows when physically agitated. (Mark Girardeau)

What causes bioluminescence?

Bioluminescence is caused by tiny organisms that drift in the ocean called Lingulodinium polyedra, often called phytoplankton. They are a species of motile photosynthetic dinoflagellates, according to Dr. Drew Lucas, an associate professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

"They're like plants in the sense that they photosynthesize, but they're unlike most plants in the fact that they move around a bunch. They can swim," Lucas said.

These organisms are red during the day but don't show off their blue glow until nighttime when they're physically disturbed by things like breaking waves, boats and dolphins!

"That flash of light for each individual cell is not very bright, but when there's a lot of them in the water, that's when they really can light the waves up and lead to quite bright glowing," Lucas said.

Newport Beach certainly had a plethora of plankton on Monday night.

The bioluminescence grows strong in the boat's wake. (Mark Girardeau)
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