Red tide invades the waves of Bondi Beach

December 4, 2012 | Environment
Red Tide: bloody good wave at Bondi Beach

A rare red algae has invaded the waves and sands of Bondi Beach, coming from off the coast of eastern Australia.

The thick bloom was caused by noctiluca scintillans, a dinoflagellate marine algae that is also called "Sea Sparkle", because it exhibits bioluminescence.

"As the algae die and sink in the shallow coastal water, they decompose and oxygen is taken from the water column. This can lead to temporary low oxygen zones", explains Lauren Freeman, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

Although the algae is naturally occurring, blooms such as these can be a hazard to swimmers. High levels of ammonia contained in the algae can cause rashes and eye irritation.

These red tides reproduce quickly and have been seen in the Gulf of California and Monterey Bay, too.

  • A sun dog, or sundog, is a natural optical phenomenon consisting of one or two colored luminous spots appearing on either side of the Sun.
  • Every year, nonprofit environmental organization Heal the Bay assigns A-to-F letter grades to beaches along the California coast.
  • A heat wave, or heatwave, is a period of two or more consecutive days with apparent temperatures exceeding 105°F to 110°F (40°C to 43°C) on National Weather Service's Heat Index.
  • Have you ever wondered how a beach is formed? The formation of sand strips is a long process that involves minerals, water, wind, waves, and tides.

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