Glowing Waters: A Microscopic Light Show

Towards the end of 2013 I went on a research cruise with Steve Haddock at MBARI  to see the diversity and jaw dropping bioluminescent displays of organisms found in the mid water of Monterey Bay. To see some of the life forms we found on that trip, keep an eye on Steve Haddock’s Bioluminescence web page. More recently however I had the opportunity to photograph the algae Pyrocystis fusiformis. These large algae are responsible for some glowing algal blooms seen on the coast at San Diego and other places around the globe. I was interested in photographing the tiny and very individual light show that each one of these single celled organisms display to cumulatively create sparkling, bright blue surf at certain times of year. The photographs below were taken with the expert help of James Russell at EMPCO llc who specializes in culturing various species of bioluminescent algae. If you haven’t seen bioluminescence before, or are looking for a good source of bioluminescent dinoflagellates, I would highly recommend ordering some of these cells from EMPCO and seeing the light for yourself.

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