An Eerie Blue Glow Is Washing Over Washington's Coastline

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Bioluminescent waves, like those seen here in Newport Beach, California in 2020, have begun to shine along the Washington coast as plankton begins to bloom in the water. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

ACROSS WASHINGTON — An eerie blue glow could be seen off the waters of Washington's coast over the weekend, marking the start of the bioluminescent season.

The springtime phenomenon occurs when plankton in the water begin to rapidly multiply and produce a chemical reaction that generates light, according to the Smithsonian. The light can be seen whenever there's a break in the water, such as waves smashing on the shore or up against an object in the water.

Most of the time, the color produced by bioluminescence is a bluish-green, which allows it to be seen in shallow and deep water. Bioluminescence is used by organisms to lure prey or attract a mate, or as a form of protection to scare off or hide from potential predators, the Smithsonian reports.

It's not just plankton that can glow. Other sea life that generates bioluminescence includes different types of fish, sharks, worms and crustaceans.

For the light show in Washington, it's best to go when it's really dark outside and there's no light pollution, according to Matt Nichols, a photographer who likes to take pictures of the phenomena, in an interview with KING-TV.

"I've also found it's really prevalent when we've had a bunch of clear days like we have recently — clear, warm days," Nichols told the station. "The blooms really start to pick up, and you can really start to see it then."

To help better see the glow, Nichols recommends people let their eyes adjust to their dark and limit the use of flashlights and cell phones when they're outside.

A Facebook group was started by Nichols to help people track down bioluminescence up and down the Washington coast.

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