'True form of magic': Glowing fungus makes for surreal neon scene along dark Washington beaches

Photographer Mathew Nichols found eerie glowing logs along a nighttime trek of a coastal Washington beach. The glow comes from a fungus undergoing a process known as "foxfire".

FORKS, Wash. -- It might look like something that was just slimed by a Ghostbuster or perhaps somehow become radioactive, but instead, it's just living creatures naturally shedding light along a soaked remnant of what was long ago part of a tree.

Photographer Mathew Nichols found these eerie glowing logs along a nighttime trek of a coastal Washington beach. 

"I have been searching for the glowing logs for a few weeks with no luck," he told FOX Weather. 

But then, finally, there they were.

"I stepped onto the beach, and I could see a couple areas that were glowing," he said. "Excited, I ran closer where I came upon two different logs that were glowing."

What a glow!

The glow comes from fungus expelling natural light and energy as it consumes the decaying wood and also goes by the name of "foxfire."


"Experiencing these logs glow in the dark naturally… feels like a true form of magic," Nichols said.

Nichols says this display was shockingly bright, and he didn't enhance the color in the photographs, though the photos were taken with extended exposure.

"The logs glow so bright you can hold it up to a book in the dark and read the pages," Nichols said.


Nichols has become quite adept at photographing bioluminescence along the Washington coast -- finding a similarly glowing log nearly a year ago to the date along the beach.

He's also been present for several displays of blue-tinged bioluminescence from algae in the ocean waters that glow when conditions are just right.