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.

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