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Washington Coast Photog Snags Intense Wave Glow / Perseids at Kalaloch Beach (as well as Oregon)

Published 08/16/23 at 5:31 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Washington Coast Photog Snags Intense Wave Glow / Perseids at Kalaloch Beach (as well as Oregon)

(Forks, Washington) – Kalaloch Beach on the north Washington coast's Olympic National Park is one of those rarities for U.S. destination spots that are fairly easily accessible yet so peaceful that it's downright esoteric in moments. The place almost shouts a joyous kind of calm. (Above: horizontal version of photo from Mathew Nichols Photography - full version below)

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However, one recent eve, as Washington coast photographer Matt Nichols stepped out there, the place was screaming surreal wonders. Nichols caught an intense display of both the Perseid meteor showers and glowing phytoplankton – a mind-blowing combo of sparks and bioluminescence below and above.

For those hoping to see this dual luminosity action it may not be too late for either the Oregon coast or Washington coast. Warm conditions are more conducive to bioluminescence showing up on beaches, and Oregon and Washington are certainly experiencing that now. The Perseids may have seen their peak this past weekend, but they continue through the end of the month. See Bioluminescent Phytoplankton: What Makes Glowing Sand On Oregon Coast, Washington - including how to look for them

Nichols' full photo (see his social account for timelapse too)

Nichols' post on Facebook shows he's justifiably losing his **** over the experience. Who wouldn't? After all, he spent seven hours setting up, gauging light and shooting, then he encounters a truly gargantuan display of meteors and a bright blue glow on the water.

It's not at all easy to see this with the naked eye. Bioluminescent phytoplankton isn't that bright on the Oregon side of the coast and most of Washington (though up north it can be a bit brighter). It's hard enough to photograph as well.

“I probably saw over 100 meteors that night, and the waves constantly glowed blue from the algae,” Nichols told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “It was an amazing experience, one that can only happen when the conditions are perfectly aligned.”

Nichols' shooting specs:

13 second intervals
2000 ISO
f 1.8

Kalaloch is absolutely dark at night, so that helps. In most places, you won't know glowing phytos are there unless you walk on the sand and see the little sparks below. In this case, walking on the beach was almost explosive with light. (Below: Nichols' shot of Manzanita's Cape Falcon area and glowing waves - article continues)

“Every footstep glowed blue as I walked down the beach, and sticking my hand in the tidepools was like being in an Avatar movie as my hand was covered with glowing blue plankton,” Nichols told Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

Nichols is no newbie to glowing stuff on beaches – or the skies above the sands. He's snagged a wealth of incredible shots of bioluminescent waves on the Washington coast and Oregon coast, and is about to put out a calendar of this radiant marine phenomena. See more of Nichols' calendar

Some of these feature absolutely striking images of the Aurora Borealis on top of the glowing water. MORE OF NICHOLS BELOW

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Nichols' calendar cover: Ruby Beach, Washington coast. Below, calendar sample.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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