Blue Flash!

There’s an amazing natural phenomena happening on Imperial Beach!

A bloom of algae called “red tide” is occurring on the Southern California coastline. The most amazing feature of red tid is a phosphorescent  green or blue flash that is created by the stirring or movement of the organisms in the water as the waves break on the beach, or as marine life swim and disturb the algae. Surfers love it too!

I’ve witnessed this event a few times in my life, one most notable algae bloom occurred when I was working on a marine survey crew off the beautiful beaches of Puerto Penasco, Sonora Mexico in 1979.  What made this natural miracle so outstanding was the amount of algae in the sea, making the water, beach and sand a fantastic light show that only nature can create!

It was absolutely surreal, like breaking open a huge glow light and pouring its contents into the sea, lighting up the surf and breaking on the shoreline. The remnants lingering in the sand, you could grab a handful and stir it, activating a miniature glowing universe!

Having spent some time working in the area, I became friends with a poor family who lived in a small cement shack only a hundred yards or so from the waters edge. The older couple had five children, and eked out what living they could collecting and selling firewood to the Phoenix, AZ college crowd who drove down to “Rocky Point” and overtook “Sandy Beach” every weekend.  The family lived there for years I guess, and always made an effort to include us in their family meals and get together’s.

I had some work to do on the site one night and once it got dark enough, the brilliant light show manifested for all to see and marvel at. I got excited and went to the families house to show them what was going on right in their own back yard. The family usually retired at sundown and I lured them out with “Ven a ver,” “Come see, Come see!”

The children were the first to follow me out to the beach. They were dumbfounded by the display, having never seen such a thing before. They were a bit frightened by it, and cautiously picked up some frothy sand and stirred it with tiny fingers. It was a free magic show to them, all the way!

They were ecstatic about the miracle and ran back to drag the elders out to come see. To my surprise,  the parents had pretty much the same reaction as the children, their eyes opened wide and a expressed a bit of fear at first. They relaxed a bit as the children played and saw there was nothing to fear and everything to enjoy!

I was amazed in a different way, like acres of diamonds shining brightly, right in their own back yard, they could have missed the fireworks entirely, had they not ventured out into the dark night to behold the display.

It reminds me a lot of the desperate majority, never stepping out into the real world to enjoy all there is to see, to feel, to smell and listen too. Most families get their stimulus from sitting in front of a big or little flat screen. That’s about all they know about the real world.

Kind of sad, isn’t it?

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