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Glowing Dolphins Light up the Newport Beach Coast

Last Wednesday, photographer Patrick Coyne captured an amazing sight while he was out in the bioluminescence of the waters along the Newport Beach Coast.  Also on board was Ryan Lawler, owner of Newport Coastal Adventure.  

For a week, the news of the bioluminescence in the water drew much attention to the coast.  When Coyne went out he was about to give up on his search for the creatures swimming through the waters, two dolphins appeared and gave him an experience of a lifetime.   

View this post on Instagram

•Dolphins Swimming in Bioluminescence• Last night was truly one of the most magical nights of my life. Capt. Ryan @lawofthelandnsea of @newportcoastaladventure invited me along to capture rare video of Dolphins swimming in bioluminescence. The first time I saw this actually filmed was a few months back while watching a Night on Earth documentary on Netflix. The second I saw that footage it became a dream of mine to one day capture something similar and that’s exactly what we did. This was by far the most challenging video I’ve shot for a number of reasons. For starters the bioluminescence has sweet spots to where it shows up and then fades away so while on the water it’s impossible to just find it. Not only that but actually finding any type of animal in pitch black is just so ridiculously hard. Conditions have to be absolutely perfect for the bioluminescence to show up and to have an animal swim through it so we can film it. On top of all that just trying to nail the focus at such a wide aperture with something moving in the water was a nightmare. We were out for a few hours and on our final stretch back we finally had 2 Dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show. A few minutes later and we were greeted by a few more which was insane. I’m honestly still processing this all and I can’t thank @newportcoastaladventure enough for having me out because without them none of this would be possible. Be sure to check our their edit from last night as well! I hope you all enjoy this video. ——————————————————————————— Shot on a Sony a7Sii with a Rokinon 35mm Cine DS T1.5 Lens. Shutter speed: 1/50 Aperture T2 ISO 80,000

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Coyne filmed what seemed to be glowing dolphins gliding through the water.  In reality it was the bioluminescence which caused the water to turn a neon blue, and in turn the dolphins.  

“I was like, this can’t be happening. This is so magical. After the dolphins were playing with us, a few more joined in.”

Coyne to OC Register

Bioluminescence is the emission of light by organisms.  It mainly occurs in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, like jellyfish. 

Bioluminescence in jellyfish
Photo: LeisurePro
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According to scientists, bioluminescence is usually used to scare off predators, attract prey, and communicate with members of the same species.  

The first sign that the water may illuminate was the red tides that came in in the daytime.  However, not every red tide causes bioluminescence.  

Microorganisms swim up to the surface during the daytime, searching for the light.  They then become dinoflagellates (algae), making the water appear striking neon blue. 

The video can also be seen from Newport Coastal Adventure’s Facebook Page.  

What do you think of this natural phenomenon? Do you think it’s cool? Let us know in the comments!

Cover Photo: Patrick Coyne Instagram