Red Tide at Newport Pier
Red tide turns water orange-red at the Newport Beach Pier on April 25. Courtesy Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that dense phytoplankton blooms — popularly known as “red tides” — have become more visible throughout Southern California this week.

Blooms have been spotted in La Jolla, Newport Beach, and Santa Barbara. Researchers with the cooperative Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System are monitoring the blooms.

In La Jolla, Scripps said the species Lingulodinium polyedravery is turning water dark red and producing bioluminescence at night. In Newport Beach, the Akashiwo sanguinea species is responsible for orange-red water that can be harmful to birds, fish, and shellfish.

While the blooms are generally harmless to humans, they may cause a rash or increased risk for ear or sinus infections when swimming, or mild respiratory symptoms from being near the water.

Anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms after being exposed to the current bloom was asked to complete a 12-question online survey to assist scientists.

Scripps said oceanographers don’t know exactly how long these blooms will last but will provide updates as they learn more.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.