Think back to the days of camping in the forest or sitting in the backyard, watching the lights twinkle and shine while the fireflies danced. Now picture sitting on the beach, at night, and seeing lights from the water glow and flow with the waves. These tiny creatures of the sea create these beautiful blue lights by using bioluminescence.
Bioluminescent organisms can be found in all oceans across the world from the surface of the water to the deepest trenches known to man. The most common bioluminescent organisms encountered are various species of luminous dinoflagellates, a type of marine plankton. This plankton lights up when it is disturbed by force, such as a wave breaking, a boat propeller moving the water or even by a dolphin, fish, or human swimming around. You can even find glowing plankton washing up on the beach and lighting as you run your fingers and toes around the wet sand!
One of the best ways to have this incredible encounter is joining one of our night snorkelling tours and with a bit of courage, switching off the torches and moving your fins until plankton will glow up underneath you.
This Bioluminescent feature can be found in thousands of different organisms such as jellyfish, fish, sea stars, squid, crustaceans, bacteria, fungi, and terrestrial insects (as shown in the image below). Most marine creatures use their light to distract a predator, or as camouflage. Animals that have the use of eye sight can also use bioluminescence as a light source for seeing, or as a communication device. Some animals create a flashing light within their body cavity while others can release a luminous secretion.
So next time you go for a night swim be sure to enjoy the little magical lights that surround you and hopefully sometimes in our lives we will be in the right place at the right moment when a bloom lights up the entire sea and beach!
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