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In the shallow coastal waters of Mission Bay, a dazzling display lights up the sea after dark. Not the SeaWorld fireworks — it’s the marine fireworms, coming to the surface in swarms to mate. Like clockwork, two days before the quarter moon during warmer months, the seafloor-dwelling worms perform their reproductive ritual. Females secrete glowing mucus that creates a green cloud of luminous goo bright enough to attract sailors. Males respond by releasing gametes.

You'd also be glowing if you were a mating female fireworm.

You'd also be glowing if you were a mating female fireworm.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists studying bioluminescence found that the secretions might also be used for defense.

Naturalist Mary Rose said the “horizontal boogie” begins about ½-hour after sunset and lasts 20 to 30 minutes. Look for her at De Anza Cove pier near the fire pit on Sunday, September 20th, at 6:30. Worms are expected to show around 7 or 7:15. Free glow bracelets and bioluminescence demonstration.

Rose recommends any low dock at a marina (with low lighting) if curious observers would like to check out the phenomenon.

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