Early this morning, the waters of Trinidad Harbor were imbued with some alarming blobs of vibrant orange. Kayakers and others worried that something toxic may have been spilled. The orange streaks spread across the water’s surface, drifting in the waves that lapped at Launcher Beach, the pier and Trinidad Head.

Fortunately, local writer and former journalism professor Ted Pease managed to get to the bottom of this mystery, and as he reported on Facebook, these vivid blooms turned out to be Noctiluca scintillans, a marine-dwelling species sometimes called “sea sparkle” due to its natural luminescence. 

In an email forwarded to the Outpost, Grant Eberle of the HSU Marine Lab said, “We checked out a sample this morning and it’s a bloom of Noctiluca, a dinoflagellate.” Eberle reportedly identified the critters with David Hankin, former director of the Marine Lab.

Cool, right? What’s more, this flamboyant natural display might look even more amazing at night.

“With the strong north winds blowing all week, bringing some upwelling and nutrients, they seem to be doing very well,” Eberle continued. “They are bioluminescent and will put on a spectacular show in the surf after dark!”