Glowing Waves off the North Carolina Coast

Rare phenomenon known as bioluminescence waves captured Wednesday evening off the North Carolina Coast

Photographer Wes Snyder captured a rare phenomenon known as bioluminescence Wednesday evening off the coast of Coquina Beach, North Carolina.

Though this is not the first time Snyder has seen this jaw dropping marvel, the display on Wednesday night was one to remember. Friends and family gathered for hours to see the spectacular display of bioluminescence.

Click here for bioluminescence wave timelapse captured by Wes Snyder earlier this month.

Earlier this month Snyder took to facebook and said “While we were doing the Milky Way Portraits we noticed the waves looked like they were ‘extra white’ and glowing. When we finished with the Milky Way portraits I pointed the camera at the ocean and was surprised to see nothing but beautiful blue waves!”

What is bioluminescence? WCCB spoke with Jordy Taylor who is a Mitigation Bank Marine Habitat Resource Specialist, Contractor with ERT in support of Habitat Conservation Division, and NOAA Fisheries.

Taylor says “Dinoflagellates which are a type of single celled plankton, gather in large abundances in nutrient rich water. Some of these dinoflagellate species are bioluminescent, and will produce the light (most often blue because of its short wavelength) when they and the water around them experience a disturbance. This can be usually seen as waves are crashing, large animals swim quickly through the water, even as boats coast and the wake splashes off the bow. In some studies, researchers have found that the bioluminescent glow is a neat trick dinoflagellates use as a defense mechanism to ward off copepods, a common predator of dinoflagellates.”

National Park Services define bioluminescents as “Chemical reactions within an organism release energy that create a light which we call bioluminescence.”