Neon lights are some of the coolest things to grace the world. The tech is an iconic part of the early to mid-20th century, showing up in the form of various venue signs as well as becoming a key aesthetic in the 1982 movie Tron.

Nowadays, seeing neon lights is not as prevalent as it was back in the day, with cryogenic refrigeration and gas lasers being the primary applications of the element. However, people can still experience neon-like lighting in nature. Yes, nature has just become much more awesome.

Videographer Patrick Coyne has recently shown how awesome nature can sometimes be


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A post shared by Patrick Coyne (@patrickc_la) on

Patrick Coyne, a photographer and videographer from Torrance, California, recently posted a video of sea waves breaking in a display of bioluminescence in Newport Beach, CA. Bored Panda got in contact with Patrick for an interview.

For those unaware, bioluminescence is the ability of living organisms to produce and emit neon-like light by means of chemical reactions happening inside their bodies. Some aquatic creatures as well as fungi and bacteria are capable of this, with many using it as a communicative, attractive, or defensive mechanism—and the visuals are absolutely stunning. For the record, this doesn’t use neon, but rather the compound luciferin as well as other elements, depending on the species. But, the result is the same.

One night, Patrick received a call from his friend Mark Girardeau about a red tide, originally discovered by another friend and  visual artist Royce Hutain. This meant that there would be a chance of bioluminescent activity happening in the ocean. So the guys decided to go check it out (yes, they kept their distance, don’t worry.)

He managed to catch a unique moment of dolphins in bioluminescent waters

Image credits: Patrick Coyne

Bioluminescence is when organisms emit neon-like light as a communicative, attractive, or defensive mechanism

Image credits: Patrick Coyne

And bioluminescence they found indeed. Lots of it, and very bright—brighter than usual, in fact. Patrick quickly grabbed his camera and started shooting the dreamy, neon-like waves crashing at shore. And the results were phenomenal, for lack of a better word.

“After finding out about the red tide, I went down to Newport to initially film the waves crashing and then later ended up getting the dolphin footage with whale watching company Newport Coastal Adventure who took me out on a private ride to specifically go capture footage of the dolphins,” explained Patrick.

Patrick came back for another round of filming a few days later, this time more prepared and ready to film more than just water. He was invited by Captain Ryan of Newport Coastal Adventure to go out to sea and to capture some rare footage of dolphins swimming in the bioluminescence.

A ship captain from Newport Coastal Adventure invited Patrick to film dolphins some days after the red tide

Image credits: Patrick Coyne

Some consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as many factors are involved and conditions were perfect

Image credits: Patrick Coyne

Keep in mind that bioluminescence in itself is considered somewhat of a rare occurrence. Now, pair that up with the fortunate chance of living where it actually happens, and even getting an opportunity to get on a boat and go out into the open sea, and, on top of it all, actually being lucky enough to spot dolphins in weather that is always left to chance and to get as close to them as Patrick did—then you have yourself a once-in-a-lifetime situation.

Given this context, one should expect there to be challenges, and there were some, as explained Patrick: “The most challenging part about night videography and filming bioluminescence is the lack of light. You need to have the right gear and knowledge in order to film in conditions as hard as these. Luckily, the Sony camera I used does fantastic in low light and is part of the reason why I was able to get such great footage.”

Part of the Instagram caption on Patrick’s video also elaborated on the challenges: “On top of all that, just trying to nail the focus at such a wide aperture with something moving in the water was a nightmare. We were out for a few hours and on our final stretch back we finally had 2 dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show.”

Patrick filmed the dolphins several days after his other video of neon-like waves went viral


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A post shared by Patrick Coyne (@patrickc_la) on

Here’s a video of the luminescent waves from a different point of view

Video credits: Patrick Coyne

The video features a pod of dolphins dashing through the ocean, lit up in bioluminescence due to the plankton in the water. Besides the sight of it all looking simply spectacular, the lights seem to emphasize the dolphins’ forms, leaving a fading, ghostly trail of neon light behind them as they swim forward.

Many people found this sight to be breathtaking, calling it a truly magical moment. One commenter joked that all that was left was to wait for some mermaids to show up. The videos soon went viral and, since then, Patrick’s videos have begun making headlines on the internet.

For Patrick, the fact that the video went viral came as a surprise: “I was extremely surprised to see the videos go viral. It’s not something that you ever really expect or prepare for, but I’m overwhelmed by the response I got and I am happy people seem to enjoy it.”

Lastly, we asked the enthusiastic photographer whether this unique phenomenon inspired him to pursue other rare natural occurrences in his professional journey. He put it simply: “I’ve always been inspired by seeing natural phenomena and nature, but this definitely adds to it!” So, be sure to follow him on his Instagram and YouTube to see what other amazing things he finds through his camera lens in the future.

What did you think of the majestic, illuminated dolphin show? Let us know in the comments section below!

The internet was stunned by the epic bioluminescent videos