The Deep Turquoise Sea

If you can't get to Caribbean waters, then the Caribbean waters will have to come to you. Check out the alluring, algae-induced turquoise waters of the Monterey Bay!

by Neil Khosla

July 22, 2015—You know that tropical vacation you’ve wanted to go on? Well, it might be a ten minute drive from your house. And it’s brought to you by the letter A:


That’s right, algae. But not the hairy green plant you learned about in science class. We’re talking about a microscopic, single-celled species of algae called “Coccolithophores." These harmless organisms produce calcium carbonate, or chalk, which then dissipates into the sea. The chalk reflects the sun in a unique way, transforming the marble blue waters of Monterey Bay into an exquisite tropical turquoise.

Coccolithophores are always floating around our coast, but don’t always have the opportunity to flourish in Monterey Bay. Usually other algae will out-compete the chalk-producing organism. When phosphorous levels are low, the Coccolithophores rise to the top.

If you haven’t already, head on down to a local beach! It might be your cheapest tropical vacation yet.

We suggest:
The isolated Panther Beach, just a few minutes up Highway 1.
The beautiful Scott Creek Beach, where the creek meets the sea.

Read more about this beautiful coastal phenomenon in this article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.