Bioluminescing for the Win

One more shot of the infinity edge pool and the Caribbean Ocean beyond. So lovely.

What I don’t have photos of is the bioluminescence, which is why we picked Vieques in the first place. See, in Vieques, there’s a bay that’s famous for bioluminescence. The tour guides call the place “the bio bay,” also known as Mosquito Bay. Because of a combination of the warm, nutrient-rich Caribbean waters, the mangrove swamps and an extensive barrier reef, this bay is the best in the world for seeing bioluminescence. For those readers who aren’t biology geeks (*gasp* – how can it be??), these are glow in the dark organisms.

In Mosquito Bay, it’s dinoflagellates like these that do the glowing. Thanks to the Allen Centre oceans site for this pic – they have more info on the geeky end of bioluminescence.

What I want to tell you about is the magic.

We paddled out into the bay in sea kayaks, after full dark. The fingernail moon hung low in the sky, which was serendipitously perfect lighting. The tropical air matched the temperature of the warm water. Then they tell you to dip a hand in the water and let it run down your arm.

My skin looked like it was covered in thousands of stars.

They’re quite large and glow brightly when agitated. So the brush of any touch lights them up with a sparkle that rivals the constellations above. Like fairyland.

More, as you paddle over the water, you can see the fish light up below. As they swim, they brush through the dinoflagellates, so they look lit up with Christmas lights, leaving trails of sparks like comets. Deeper down, huge fish loom like dimly glowing Zeppelins. A sea snake whizzed past, undulating like a fireworks show.

Amazing. Astounding.


7 Replies to “Bioluminescing for the Win”

    1. Sadly, it’s nearly impossible to record. It’s one of those things you just have to experience in real time. Which makes it all the more magical.

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