Glowing waves caused by bioluminescent algae break against Flat rock in Torrey Pines State Beach

Luminescence | La Jolla

Blue waves from bioluminescent algae crash into Flat Rock at Torrey Pines State Beach.

The Story Behind the Photo

I've spent many a night at this spot, just watching the waves and the stars. I love the way the water crashes around the rocks and washes up against the shoreline. I love the solitude and darkness as the cliffs block the light from the city. This night however was special because I was here during the midst of a bioluminescent algae bloom (May, 2020), the strongest I've ever witnessed.

Whenever the waves break or crash against the rocks, the algae emits a flash of electric blue light. It's incredible to see this at night as the waves literally glow blue in the dark. It is the California equivalent of the northern lights, except that it's much rarer. Often many years will pass between blooms, although the frequency is thought to be increasing.

The specific algae causing the bioluminescence is a phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedra. They collect on the surface and during the day will make the water look dirty with reddish-brown tint (which is the reason why this is also called a red tide). At night, the algae glows whenever the water is disturbed. This is thought to be a defense mechanism to help avoid predators.

About the Prints

This photograph is available in a limited edition of 100 fine art prints. Each print is made to order with the highest quality pigment inks and fine art papers. They are signed and come with a certificate of authenticity. Small prints under 15" on the long dimension are excluded from the edition. If you have any questions about this specific image or my prints in general, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Museum Quality Print

Archival Pigment Print on Fine Art Paper

This is a photographic print made on Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag which is a heavyweight (310 gsm) and 100% cotton paper. The image is printed using pigment inks with outstanding archival properties. All images are printed at the listed size on paper that is slightly larger resulting in an additional border. This is a print only, shipped rolled in a robust protective tube.

Please allow 3-4 weeks for production and delivery of your print. The prices include U.S. shipping, please inquire for international rates.


Acrylic Fine Art Print with a Float Mount — Ready to Hang

Trulife Acrylic Fine Art Print

This is a photographic print where the front has been directly adhered to a sheet of TruLife acrylic which is an ultra clear, scratch resistant, and anti-reflective glazing. This process is known as face mounting. The acrylic captures light internally and bounces it off the surface of the print resulting in a display with incredible depth and vibrancy. With proper lighting, the acrylic print will appear to have light emanating from the image itself. The back of the print is sealed with another layer of protective acrylic.

The print comes ready to hang with hidden mounting hardware on the back that makes the print appear as if it is floating in front of the wall. No additional framing is needed. Choose this medium for a modern and minimalist presentation.

Print is signed and numbered on verso (back).

Please allow 4-6 weeks for production and delivery of your print. The prices include U.S. shipping, please inquire for international rates.


For additional information, you can learn more about my prints and read testimonials from my customers.

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