A stunning red blanket spreading its way down the coast is an algal bloom known as a “bioluminescent dinoflagellate” according to Kerryn Wood, Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre manager.
The algal blooms have been spotted along the coastline from Bermagui to Eden this week and while looking red during the day, at night they are enthralling locals by turning a luminescent blue.
Red tides are large concentrations of microorganisms known as dinoflagellates. Some glow in the dark and brighten when agitated by boats or even migrating whales.
“Bioluminescent dinoflagellate is a very beautiful natural occurrence,” Ms Wood said. “It’s from the warming temperatures and the rain. Algae generally require a mix of light, high nutrients and warm water in order to bloom.”
Although many South Coasters seem to have been surprised by the sight of red hugging the coastlines, the extra surprise has come from the beauty of the luminescence the algae has at night.
Eden local Joanne Korner said she was thrilled to see the reaction that the sea sparkle had when she threw a rock into the water.
“The splash went blue, it’s just such a magical sight. There were greens and blues swirling all around the rocks,” Ms Korner said.
According to Eden locals, including fishermen and surfers, the occurrence comes around every couple of years and it doesn’t seem to be any cause for alarm. One fisherman said he had seen the red tides all of his life, but reported it began to make a more regular appearance since around 1985.
“Almost every year people call us up or come in and ask us about the algae bloom, they are always surprised to see it,” Ms Wood said.
The last reported “red tide” was in 2016, before that it was in 2013.
Many Eden locals have taken up the opportunity to observe and photograph the bioluminescent sea sparkle at night at Snug Cove.
The Magnet encourages budding photographers to share their photographs by emailing them to email@example.com.