Oceans

Northern Lights appear as ocean glows blue from bioluminescence

KALALOCH, Wash. — Mother Nature has been putting on incredible shows for days across Washington State, with a multiple-day Northern Lights event mixed in with another scene of glowing waters from bioluminescence off the northern coast.

“The past week has been full of mind-boggling nature experiences,” says photographer Mathew Nichols. “(Monday) night made me feel like the luckiest guy alive!!!”

Nichols went to Kalaloch Beach to find fresh examples of bioluminescence.

“(I) immediately noticed the waves were glowing blue as bright as I’ve ever seen them!!” he said.

But as he was taking multiple photos of the blue glow, he noticed the Northern Lights began to appear — giving him a second experience with both glowing skies and glowing water in the same month.

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“So here I was watching the waves glow bright blue while watching the Northern Lights vibrantly dance through the sky,” he said. “As I peered down and noticed I was also capturing the beautiful reflection of the lights, I suddenly found myself living in a dream.”

Bioluminescence is when living organisms produce light, so they have the chemistry within their cells, their bodies to have a chemical reaction that involves the release of energy comes out as light that we can see, says Michael Latz, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography through the University of California, San Diego.

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“The purpose of the light can be for attracting prey or searching out prey like a flashlight or attracting mates or defending against predators,” Latz said. “Bioluminescence or signaling by light is a really effective way of communicating, and of course, in shallow waters like along the coast, it’s something that occurs at night.”

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How about an encore?

The Northern Lights weren’t quite done with their shows this week, providing an even more brilliant encore on Friday across the Northwest.

Nichols was up at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains for this show, which did not disappoint.

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The show put on quite a widespread display, including Central Washington:

Solar activity has quieted for the moment but the sun has been on an active streak of late.

Be sure to download the FOX Weather app to stay up-to-date on everything in the tropics this hurricane season. The free FOX Weather live stream is also available 24/7 on the website and app and on your favorite streaming platform. The FOX Weather Update podcast also provides weather information for the entire country.

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