The magical effect of bioluminescence explained
23 January 2014
THERE are a few places in the world where diving into the water on a moonless night is like diving into a sea of sparkling stars.
IF you know anything about holidays you've probably been to one of those idyllic islands where time stands still and cocktails and swimming are the only things that matter.
Days filled with nothing are the best days of all.
But what about the nights? Have you ever stayed up to watch the sea? You might be surprised at the magical ambience nightfall brings.
Some nights, usually when there is no moon and the water is still, a new world opens up. Those lucky enough to be spectators will see the ocean light up with glowing bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence is a light produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism, which means when you do see this magical light there's a special marine creature producing that effect.
Most bioluminescent organisms are found in the ocean and include marine species such as fish, bacteria, and jellies (although some organisms, including fireflies and fungi, are found on land).
Think of the 2012 movie, Life of Pi, when the night sea glittered blue around Pi's raft and a glowing whale jumped out of the water. The effect is the same, although a little less dramatic in most real-life cases.
There are a few places in the world where diving into the water on a moonless night is like diving into a sea of sparkling stars. Puerto Mosquito (also known as Bioluminescent Bay) in Vieques in Puerto Rico is one of the most renowned in the world.
Closer to Australia, Halong Bay in Vietnam offers a more subtle sparkle, but you won't be able to see it at all until all the boats turn off their power and lights at around 11pm. Although it may seem understated at first, if you dive into the water (or even splash around using your feet) you'll be met with magnificent electric blue all around you.
Pretty cool, huh?