Bioluminescent waves in Laguna Beach, California. This phenomenon occurs after a red tide when millions of dinoflagellates group at the ocean's surface. These tiny creatures developed the bioluminescent effect as a way to scare off predators. This light is caused by a chemical reaction between oxygen and a photoprotein called luciferin. The result is a blueish-green light with a short wavelength that we see traveling through the water when disrupted by the ocean waves.