Bioluminescence forecasted for San Luis Obispo County coastal waters

May 15, 2018

Tuesday and Wednesday night, the ocean may glow on the Central Coast. A combination of strong winds and cold water have created the perfect combination for a phenomenon called bioluminescence.

Pacific Gas & Electric meteorologist John Lindsey explained some of the science.

“I was just on the water today, and we are seeing the beginnings of a plankton bloom, as sunlight throughout the Central Coast, but especially on the coastline, is allowing phytoplankton to really expand in numbers,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said the bioluminescence might show up as an electric blue flash when waves crash on the beach.

And what beaches might be good for seeing it?

“I think Avalon Beach, or Port San Luis, would be your best bet,” Lindsey said. “But then again, sometimes up in Morro Bay, on the north side of the Rock, on the Strand there, sometimes you can see some bioluminescence. And then sometimes along Pismo Beach, too. It's kind of hit or miss, it’s a very difficult phenomenon to predict, but all the ingredients are in place.”

Lindsey adds the plankton aren’t harmful, so swimmers who can bear the super cold ocean waters are welcome to dive in and watch the glowing waters swirl around them.