Manhattan Beach's typically blue coastal water takes on red tint

ByJovana Lara and staff via KABC logo
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
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Manhattan Beach's typically blue coastal water took on a red tint due to a phytoplankton bloom.

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- If you noticed something a little different about the ocean in Manhattan Beach the last couple of days, you were right. The typically blue coastal water took on a red tint.

"Now that you say it, I kind of see it. There's a red tint out there," said Breann Hansberry, who is visiting from Las Vegas.

Marine life experts at the Roundhouse Aquarium on the Manhattan Beach pier call the phenomenon "a red tide," though the color has nothing to do with the tide.

The color is the result of a phytoplankton bloom, a hyper bloom of sorts, that happens when the tiny algae multiply very quickly. The higher concentration of the phytoplankton becomes more visible in the ocean, giving the water a red hue.

Phytoplankton isn't generally harmful to swimmers, though this round in Manhattan Beach hasn't been tested. However, phytoplankton can make marine life and humans sick if they eat shell fish that have eaten high concentrations of it.

Experts say various factors can trigger the algal bloom, including a change in water temperature or nutrient source from a shift in ocean currents.