Friends, I’m here to tell you something that you absolutely must put on your bucket list today: Kayaking in Bio Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico. Do it! Go write it down, I’ll wait.
Is it on your list now? Good. Let me tell you all about the little bit that I know about bioluminescence and Bio Bay.
Go to Vieques
Out of all the places in the world to see bioluminescence, Bio Bay in Vieques is said to be the brightest. And it’s bright. I was floored when I saw it. My friend couldn’t stop giggling at how incredible it was when we got out on the water. It truly is a sight that must be seen in person to be believed. And it’s worth every penny you will spend, I promise.
Tips: unless you know someone there who has a kayak (as we did, thanks, Cassie!), you will need to go with a tour company. But if you have a kayak then it’s free! And also, no swimming allowed. Unless you want to pay a $1000 fine.
It won’t look like you’ve imagined it
The bioluminescence won’t really look like the images you googled. I am pretty sure those are all Photoshopped, unfortunately. In order for for the dinoflagellates to produce the light that they emit, they need to be disturbed. So you have to be actively moving the water in order to get the light that you see. Which creates a blurry picture when you try to photograph it. Once the water settles down and stops moving, the light disappears. In order for me to get any sort of photos (and you can see that they didn’t turn out very well), I had to bring my DSLR out on the kayak with me while my friends paddled and constantly moved the water. I wasn’t brave enough to stay out there long enough to experiment with different settings to try and get better pictures because I was too afraid the girls were going to tip me and my camera into the water accidentally. So I opted to head for shore and be satisfied with the dark and blurry pictures that I did get. Had I been on land, or in a boat, I would have been content to experiment with photos all night long!
In person the light and color will appear more yellow than blue
In all the pictures I saw before I went, and in the pictures that I took, the dinoflagellates look blue. But in person it’s much more fluorescent yellow than blue. Our eyes see different colors at night than the camera captures, just as you will notice when photographing the northern lights. But it’s no less amazing yellow than blue. I was expecting individual flecks of light, as I had seen in all the pictures. But the color is a solid light, not individual flecks. When you reach into the water and move your hand, or paddle, the water lights up as if it’s suddenly turned into a glo-stick! As you are getting out of the water, and individual drops of water are dripping off of your oars, then you will see individual specks of light rolling off with each drop. Or if you toss a handful of water into the kayak you will see tiny individual light specks falling around you. But when you are in the water, the bay itself will light up solid when you move the water. I can’t even adequately describe it. You just have to see it for yourself.
Have you seen bioluminescence anywhere in the world? Where did you see it?