Above: Bioluminescent waves at a beach in Southern California.
MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — It comes as no surprise to locals that the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island in Florida’s Manatee County hold a brilliant bluish-green hue even on a bad day. But not on this night.
Astrophotographer Tammy Fryer told Nexstar’s WFLA that she recently ventured out to the tip of the island community to capture photos of the Milky Way, something she does whenever the moon doesn’t light up the night sky.
“I’ve seen some spectacular things here, but this is definitely in the top five,” Fryer wrote on Facebook, accompanied by a series of mystifying photos. “No photo or video does it justice. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.”
Fryer caught herself in the midst of a bioluminescent algae bloom.
According to the Department for Environment and Water, a natural chemical process known as bioluminescence allows living things to produce light inside their bodies. Some fish, squid, tiny crustaceans, and algae produce bioluminescence to confuse predators, attract prey, or lure potential mates.
Humans, on the other hand, can witness the natural phenomenon when there is lots of bioluminescence in the water, usually from an algae bloom of plankton.
“If you can get here while it’s still happening, do it!” Fryer added.
This isn’t the first time bioluminescent algae has lit up the oceans recently.
Earlier this week, a photographer and videographer captured boogie boarders surfing some bioluminescent waves in Huntington Beach, California. The glow from the waves is a result of algae that is disturbed at night and causes bioluminescence.