SAN DIEGO — The red tide is back and it’s rolling what appears to be electric blue waves into parts of San Diego’s coastline.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography captured aerial images this week of a red tide along Del Mar’s Pacific edge.

While speaking from Scripps Pier, Drew Lucas, an associate professor with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explained the science behind this marvel.

“You’ll see a red tide if you come to the beach. You look out, you’ll notice that the water is extremely red-colored, rust-colored. And it has to do with an accumulation of millions and millions and billions of cells of an organism called Lingulodinium polyedra (L. poly), which is a dinoflagellate — a type of plankton,” Lucas explained.

Red tide is a general name for the discoloration that results from the algae bloom.

  • A red tide near a Del Mar
  • A red tide near a Del Mar

During that time, there’s a chance to see bioluminescence at the beach. This is due to the L. poly, which is a bioluminescent organism.

Lucas explained that when these organisms are physically disturbed by a breaking wave, boats or even dolphins moving through the water, the physical disturbance induces the plankton to release a flash of light.

This week, there have been reported sightings of bioluminescent waves in several San Diego areas. This includes Scripps Pier north, Encinitas D Street, Moonlight State Beach, Terramar Point in Carlsbad and Oceanside’s south strand.

That’s according to San Diego photographer Vishwas Lokesh who captured some footage of this week’s bioluminescence near Scripps Pier.

Red tides typically last for several weeks, though major events can last for a couple months.