Small portion of Pacific Ocean turns pink

23 January 2023

SAN DIEGO (KSWB) – A portion of the Pacific Ocean along Torrey Pines near San Diego turned pink Friday morning during the first phase of a science experiment, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

A project known as Plumes in Nearshore Conditions looks to study how small freshwater outflows interact with the surf zone. The experiment uses environmentally friendly pink dye to make water movement more clearly visible.

Scientists said the pink dye was released from the estuary mouth at the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon within Torrey Pines State and Natural Reserve. Friday was just one of three days that pink dye will be released in that area.

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Researchers are tracking the pink dye using drones, sensors attached to poles in the sand in the river mouth and surf zone as well as a jet ski. Scientists add that the jet ski will be outfitted with a fluorometer, a device that measures the light emitted from the dye.

The research team is looking at how smaller waterways interact with the crashing waves of the ocean, and how the sediment carried by freshwater streams interacts after hitting the ocean shore. The dye project should give researchers some idea of how the sediment is distributed around after reaching the ocean, according to KPBS.

This entire experiment was funded by the National Science Foundation and was done in partnership with the University of Washington, said the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

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