Bioluminescence: A Glowing Phenomenon

Thu, Jan 07, 2016 at 10:20AM

Would you love to go swimming at nighttime, but hate jumping into dark water? Fear not—a few special places in the world give you the chance to see and experience glowing natural water! These unique spots are scattered across the globe, and are worth a visit the next time you’re in town.

In today’s blog, we are looking at what causes this interesting phenomenon—and touring just a few of the distinct places where you can see the glowing phenomenon firsthand. Ask a local tour guide if it’s safe to swim before you take the plunge, as some of these spots are better for spectating rather than swimming.

Tiny sources of light

Bioluminescence doesn’t refer strictly to the phenomenon as experienced in the water—rather, it’s an umbrella term for the production of light in living organisms. You’ve already seen a form of this unique capability in action if you’ve ever caught fireflies.

When bioluminescence occurs in the water, it’s usually the result of single-celled organisms like algae or plankton. The organisms can use their light as a defense mechanism, working to attract larger predators that can protect the tiny organisms from smaller animals. (For us, however, it’s just a breathtaking visual treat!)

Let’s take a look at a few of the most notable spots where travelers can view bioluminescence:

Bio-Bay, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bay—perhaps more commonly known as its nickname, Bio-Bay—is one of the world’s most well-known bioluminescent destinations. During the day, the bay’s waters are bright blue and indiscernible from other tropical water settings… but at night, they produce an electric blue hue, especially when disturbed (which is why kayak tours through the waters are so popular!). Sign up for your tour on your next trip to Puerto Rico for an experience you’ll remember forever.

Indian River, Florida

Florida locals will be happy to know there’s a bioluminescent experience to be had close to home! Central Florida’s Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon are home to the glowing water, too. Hop into a kayak or view from the shore as every movement—from paddles in the water to fish or bigger creatures—creates a glowing blue trail or swirl in the water.

Manasquan Beach, New Jersey

Head to Manasquan, New Jersey’s small stretch of coastline to view a unique display of bioluminescence. The cells in the water glow when they are agitated by a large movement—in many cases, the breaking of a wave close to shore—and produce a bright blue display of light. You can head to Manasquan Beach on a warm summer night to try to view the phenomenon for yourself!

For glowing water that’s a treat to be in or look at, these are the places to be. Have you ever been to any of these unique spots—or do you plan to in the coming months? Let us know in the comments below!

Bioluminescence: A Glowing Phenomenon

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