Bioluminescent bay, Puerto Rico
Bioluminescence is the emission of light from an organism. Fireflies, glow worms and plankton are all bioluminescent. Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico, is generally considered to be the largest and brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Luminescence occurs when micro-organisms, called dinoflagellates, are disturbed in water leaving a trail of neon blue. The spectacle is truly amazing.
“Kayaking through the bay is magical. The hull of your vessel glows as it cuts through the water, and as you pull on your oar, it looks like it is surrounded by blue fire.” – James Cameron, director of Avatar
A combination of factors create the necessary conditions for bioluminescence: red mangrove trees surround the water (the organisms feed off the dead leaves); there is a complete lack of modern development around the bay; the water is cool enough and deep enough; and a small channel to the ocean keeps the dinoflagellates in the bay.
This small channel is the result of Spanish ships’ attempts to choke off the bay from the ocean’s waters. They believed that the bioluminescence they first encountered was the work of the devil and tried to block the ocean’s waters from entering the bay by dropping huge boulders in the channel; in so doing, they actually preserved and increased this amazing luminescence for us all.