EXPLAINED: Here’s why the waves in Galveston glow bright blue sometimes

Photos shared with KPRC 2 by Leia Olinde
Photos shared with KPRC 2 by Leia Olinde

GALVESTON, Texas – A one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon has left two Galveston residents in awe.

Beachgoer Leia Olinde said she was out with her husband on Galveston’s seawall directly in front of Gaidos Seafood restaurant Tuesday night when she noticed “glowing waves."

“It’s hands down one of my favorite natural phenomenon to see and so hard to catch,” she said.

Olinde captured photos and videos of her encounter with the bioluminescent waves, although she said it extremely foggy and was unable to get any clear shots.

Photos shared with KPRC 2 by Leia Olinde
Photos shared with KPRC 2 by Leia Olinde

What causes bioluminescent waves?

Sometimes marine organisms like bacteria, algae, jellyfish, worms, crustaceans, sea stars, fish, and sharks show off light when disturbed in the water, according to the Smithsonian Institution. The bioluminescence can be triggered by physical disturbances like when waves crash or on a moving boat hull. Often times, the animals light up in when they feel threatened or in order to attract a mate, biologists say.

Bioluminescent organisms live throughout the water column, from the surface to the seafloor, from near the coast to the open ocean. In the deep sea, bioluminescence is extremely common, and because the deep sea is so vast, bioluminescence may be the most common form of communication on the planet, according to a Smithsonian article on bioluminescence.

Have you ever seen glowing waves? Share any photos and video at share@click2houston.com

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