My family has a tradition. Every summer, we round up all the aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mother's side and we rent a beach house. Its sun rays and good times for a whole week. However, one summer we got the opportunity to experience something amazing. Everyone thought we were crazy, but we saw the sand glowing one night.
It started with a normal night walk with my aunt and uncle. They headed down the beach in the dark. It was around 11:00. As they talked, my uncle prodded a shell with his foot and slid his toes through the sand beside it. He stared at the ground. Did the sand just glow? He swiped his foot across the sand again. It glowed!
My aunt thought he had lost something and asked why he was kicking the sand around like that. When he told her the sand was glowing, of course she didn't believe him. He told her to watch the ground as he slid his foot across the sand in front of them. My aunt stared in amazement. It really did glow!
While all this was going down, my cousins and I were deep asleep. Next thing I know, I woke up to a banging on the door and the light was flicked on. We all groaned and sat up bleary eyed, not happy in the slightest at our disturbed sleep. My dad stood in the doorway talking about some glowing sand. Yeah, right. Glowing sand. We did what any sane person would do. We clambered out of bed in our pajamas and ventured outside with the rest of the family. Our curiosity was stronger than our skepticism.
I'm not going to lie, when we saw our aunt and uncle out there kicking sand and snickering to each other we immediately thought they were just a bit too tipsy or something. However, we walked over to them and swiped our feet in the sand as we were instructed and to our amazement it did glow. So we spent the next hour kicking sand and watching the grains glow like fireflies.
Turns out, the glowing sand was actually a rare event that only happens semi-regularly in Oregon. The glow is caused by tiny phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates that had washed up on shore. Water temperatures and conditions have to be just right for the dinoflagellates to appear in the sand and the conditions were perfect that night off of the coast of North Carolina. Unfortunately, we might never see the glowing sand again.