Photographer Captures Dolphins Swimming in Bioluminescence

Photographer Patrick Coyne was in Newport Beach, California, when he captured this stunning footage of dolphins swimming through bioluminescent waters and leaving glowing blue trails in their wake.

Coyne is the same photographer who shared some incredible views of bioluminescent waves earlier this week, and he was on board a Newport Coastal Adventure whale watching ship when he captured this latest footage with his Sony a7S II and Rokinon 35mm Cine DS T1.5 in 4K at 1/50s, T2, and ISO 80,000.

“Last night was truly one of the most magical nights of my life,” Coyne writes. “This was by far the most challenging video I’ve shot for a number of reasons. For starters, the bioluminescence has sweet spots to where it shows up and then fades away so while on the water it’s impossible to just find it.

“Not only that but actually finding any type of animal in pitch black is just so ridiculously hard. Conditions have to be absolutely perfect the bioluminescence to show up and to have an animal swim through it so we can film it.

“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 two dolphins pop up to start the incredible glowing show. A few minutes later and we were greeted by a few more, which was incredible.”

This bioluminescence is caused by a certain kind of plankton that glows when it senses a disturbance in the water — scientists believe the light may be to startle predators or to attract larger predators to eat the plankton’s predators.

For us humans, though, the bioluminescence can occasionally make for dazzling light shows, especially when captured with a low-light monster like the Sony a7S II.

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