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Believing in Magic


Believing in Magic

Natalie Nebilak


When I was a kid, I believed in magic.

Not just the magic of a fat, jolly man who could squeeze down millions of chimneys every night, or the magic of having a nocturnal visitation by a flying tooth fairy who was made of money. I believed in the type of magic that left you filled with wonder for the universe, the wonder if there was more out there then science could explain. I suppose as we grow older we lose this sense of wonder as we come to realize that almost everything can be explain by science. This is great by the way, I'm a huge science advocate. Not many people know this but I have a bachelors of science in geology. I'm a believer in the explainable, the rational, the scientific. But part of me still wants to believe in magic. And this weekend I was brought back to that place of wonder. 


On Friday I went looking for sea glass and driftwood at my usual haunts. After about three minutes on the beach, I realized that the water was an insanely brilliant rusty red/brown color. What in the world?!?! Now, I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, so I had not heard of RED TIDE, which is what I was seeing in the water that Friday. Red tide, apparently, is a large and rapid bloom of a certain type of algae, and this algae is what discolors the water. 

When I relayed the information to my significant other about the state of the water, his face greeted my with a large smile that had a hint of surprise to it. He informed me that we would be visiting the beach after sundown for the show of a lifetime. And boy was it.


The algae that blooms during the red tide (one species of which is called dinoflagellates) also happen to bring another color to the water, a brilliant neon blue!! But this can only be seen at night. This blue is called BIOLUMINESCENCE and as Wikipedia will tell you, "Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism..." and is the result of a chemical reaction within that organism. 

Seeing bioluminescence has been on my bucket list for a long as I can remember. Seeing it in person truly takes your breath away, and although I now there is a perfectly scientific explanation for how this happens, it still helps me believe again in just a little bit of magic.