I thought I’d take a look back at the travel moment that I’m so glad I experienced in 2013, because it’s one that may not make it into the coming years if we don’t do something about it.
A few months ago, one of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays went dark. It’s not the one we canoed out onto in Vieques Island, but it’s close by. I read the news article and felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and alarm. Being on the water at night, seeing the sparkling dinoflagellates was such a magical experience. It relies on such a fragile ecosystem. But developers in Fajardo cleared out some mangroves and undoubtedly polluted the waters in the bio lagoon. The bay went dark. Scientists still don’t know whether the microorganisms will ever thrive there again or not.
See the Bio Bays while you can.
The Bio Bay. It’s the reason we travelled to Vieques and Puerto Rico in the first place, and it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. It was magically incredible; hard to describe in words and almost impossible to photograph in pictures.
So what is it?
The scientific answer is that Mosquito Bay, the brightest Bioluminescent Bay in the world, contains millions of single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates in every gallon of water. These organisms emit a flash of white light when agitated at night.
The result is a sea of flashing white diamonds, like a pool full of miniscule lightning bugs. Or as my mother described it, it was like being in a snow globe shaken up with stars twinkling above us and little white organisms twinkling below us as we canoed out to the middle of the bay. Whenever we rowed with our oars, a crest of white…
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This is so sad! These ecosystems, as you point out, are so fragile… I do hope they are able to grow again or that they can be reintroduced somehow. Based on your photos, they do seem like being in a real life snow globe!
Hopefully they learned something from what happened near Fajardo and will take stronger measures to protect the other bio bays.
I remember the original post and hit up Google afterwards. Geez… The findings were not pretty.
I’m such a Pollyanna. I keep hoping that things will turn around. I can’t help it. Sign me up for a ‘Save the Bio Bays’ campaign!
I did not know that Juliann! Thanks for the update.
We wanted to stop by to wish you a very Happy New Year. We have so enjoyed getting to know you this year and look forward to more of your wonderful posts. 🙂 ~ Terri & James
It’s been wonderful getting to know you virtually, too. Have a happy New Year!
I would love to see one of those. Happy New Year!
Wow – yes, something to be alarmed about, definitely. I remember swimming with bioluminescent somethings at points in the past and I hate to think of them disappearing.
They stopped letting people swim with them a few years ago, trying to take measures to preserve them. At least, at Mosquito Bay, they did.
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Thanks for sharing the magic. Totally beautiful!
That is so sad. Hope conservation efforts can save the rest.