Algae is lighting up parts of the lower Chesapeake Bay

September 9, 2020 GMT

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A bioluminescent algae has been lighting up the lower Chesapeake Bay along the shores of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday that the single-celled organisms form a chain and reproduce in warm water. The algae is present during the day, but becomes most noticeable a couple of hours after sunset.

When waves break, white caps appear bright blue. The turbulence creates a chemical reaction in the algae cells that interacts with the water molecules.

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The name of the algae is Alexandrium monilatum. And it can be harmful to fish and oysters.

Margie Mulholland, a science professor at Old Dominion University, said it’s possible that some of the algae broke off of a bloom in the York River and flowed south.

Health officials have said that people and their pets should avoid swimming in water that may contain the algae.