Surfers Catch Stunning Bioluminescent Waves

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Surfers off the coast of San Diego are heading to the beach at night to ride neon blue waves. The eerie glow is caused by an overabundance of phytoplankton known as red tide. The Lingulodinium polyedrum cells emit bursts of light when agitated, and when enough of them are jostled by crashing waves, the effect is spectacular.

San Diego-based filmmaker Loghan Call shot this eye-popping surf video last week, and it quickly went viral. He talks about the experience in an interview below. 

The Atlantic: How did you get into filmmaking?

Loghan Call: I spent three years doing broadcast news/sports for a live news program. I did everything from reporting to shooting to editing. I figured I was bound for the broadcast world until I decided to join a medical mission team headed down to Nicaragua. We were in Nicaragua for 10 days, where I filmed the team performing 33 surgeries in three days. Once back in the States I turned the footage into my first documentary. It was then that I realized I didn't like the confines of the broadcast world and wanted to expand my horizons and create projects in every pocket of life. I started my production/media company a couple months after being in Nicaragua.

What inspired you to shoot the surf video?

Well honestly it started with my mother calling me on the phone and telling me I had to get down to the beach and try and shoot these neon blue waves. I'd actually never seen them before, and was busy working, but she convinced me to come down (glad she did), and once I got to the beach, I was just blown away and have now spent five nights shooting the red tide. It's really unlike anything I've ever seen, and few people have seen it this strong. As a filmmaker, you just can't pass up an opportunity like this. It's been a field day for myself and my friend and managing producer Jonathan Keena.

What causes the bioluminescence?

Basically, when the conditions are right in the ocean, large concentrations of algae are agitated causing the surface glow as the waves crash. One of the reasons why this year was so much more expressed than in previous years is because when the red tide first hit, we had a new moon. With the night sky being so much darker, this allowed for perfect viewing/shooting conditions. Alongside that we also had a decent swell the first few nights, which brought out the color even more.

What's next for you?

Currently in the pre-production phases of a music video shoot. We will be shooting a new music video for The Ruse, whose track "Midnight in the City" was featured in this video. It's taken a lot of preparation, as we are shooting in the desert two hours outside of Los Angeles. There's no running water out there and we will be shooting only at night with the closest town 20 minutes away. The video will also be in black and white; we're all excited about the project. With video there are so many different ways you can go and I'm always just looking to create something new, something that will make people pause and look at something in a completely new light. I think that happened with the red tide videos, it really blew me away at how fast the videos went viral. It spread like wildfire and the goal of Man's Best Media is to continue that fire throughout our work.

To see more work by Loghan Call, visit http://www.mansbestmedia.com.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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