Glowing Blue Waves Explained

Pinpricks of light on the shore seem to mirror stars above in a picture taken on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives.

The biological light, or bioluminescence, in the waves is the product of marine microbes called phytoplankton—and now scientists think they know how some of these life-forms create their brilliant blue glow.

The most common type of marine bioluminescence is generated by phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates. A recent study has for the first time identified a special channel in the dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals—offering a potential mechanism for how the algae create their unique illumination. Learn more here.

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