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bioluminescence

Menlo Park...
Level Contributor
5,774 posts
91 reviews
bioluminescence

Crystal's question got me thinking that I need to look more thoroughly into bioluminescence opportunities around Roatan. The most dramatic displays of dinoflagellates I've ever seen are in the "bio bays" in eastern Puerto Rico and Vieques. We saw a fabulous display in Fajardo Puerto Rico years ago where you could swim out of your kayak and light up the water. Your kayak trailed a stream of light as you paddled. That kind of thing. Unforgettable. We were told that the best display was to be found in Vieques, but naturally when we went it was having a bad year so not much to see, but of course no refund. Really bad road going in too. Both sites have large mangrove fringed bays with no inflow and a small tidal change. Guides at both don't even bother to schedule tours at all near the full moon. But you do want a site with very little light from the shore as well as an evening with an early moonset or a late moonrise. These conditions will occur the next few days until the 28th, then in April until the 25th and in May until the 28th. So if you go into the water just after sunset as it starts to get dark and scary, you'll have your best chance of seeing bioluminescence if there is any to be seen.

A dive shop in HMB in West End, Island Diving Center, specifically mentions that they look for the "string of pearls" phenomenon as part of their night dive. I imagine that other shops may include it as part of their night dive, but may not want to wait the several minutes in total darkness it takes for the little ostracod crustaceans to get up the nerve to light up. If you are sitting on the sandy ocean floor in a circles with all your flashlights turned off and then one person lights theirs, then you get to wait all over again. But if you are on a night dive on a moonless night, you might tell the DM that you would appreciate the opportunity to see the string of pearls.

Finding your basic bioluminescent dinoflagellates should be a lot easier, not requiring a dive. But again it takes a dark sky and a dark horizon as well as still water. So it may not be obvious off the shore around Roatan, but more likely in the bays confined by a coral reef crest, like Half Moon Bay and Mangrove Bight and Gibson Bight. HMB may have too much illumination from the shore, but Mangrove might work. Unfortunately for myself the timing of my trip is exactly wrong, so i may have to go out in the early morning instead. But anyone is welcome to try some evening this week and let us know if you see anything. Other than sea monsters that only come out at night.

Calypso, North...
Level Contributor
902 posts
1 review
1. Re: bioluminescence

Not really all that mysterious or technical.

The dark of the Moon works, too. April-September, but it's there 365.

The big secrets:

1) Get past the "scary" part that Dave has now mentioned twice. Either do it or not. Do it a few times, then...

2) Turn off the damned dive lights and either sit in 25' of shallow sand or become expert at neutral buoyancy hovering. Chose your buddy with care. Most night dive groups look like the flashlight scene from ET.

3) Increase your "bottom time" with either of two methods. Become a better day diver by learning gas management skills allowing for longer dives, or here's the big one: go for a two tank night dive. Yes, go twice in one night.

I do two night dives each night in Roatan, starting on Sunday through Thursday. After 10 night dives a week, do I see those mystical Pearls? Yeah, lots and often. That's just the start of it, you won't believe some of the wacky translucent critters that appear just to entertain the patient diver.

Remember, a 38 minute bottom time means you are observing for maybe 22 minutes. The psychology of Night Diving? What does the newer diver concentrate upon? It's simple: "How do I get back (ashore/boat)?" If you select the proper venue, after establishing perfect daytime familiarity with u/w landscape markers, that fear disappears. The perfect night dive on Roatan is the ultra shallow shore dive between CoCoView and Fantasy Island. You simply can not get lost, so all you have to do is enjoy the show.

Other places? Get a real-deal DM, tell him what it's going to be, select your dive group critically, tell them that the lights are to be "off", and go see Pearls and a thousand more things. If you're taking out a mixed group of Noobs and any slightly more experienced divers- everybody loses. Specific skill sets at levels shared equally. Not all levels at once, sorry.

Shoot for two dives of 2:20 TBT, you can't see Pearls sitting in a boat or in the bar.

Edited: 23 March 2017, 17:00
I wander the world
Level Contributor
4,834 posts
25 reviews
2. Re: bioluminescence

If memory serves I saw something (s) bioluminescent off the rocky shore of Paya Bay one year.

I also have a vague memory of critters in the shallows of Sandy Bay blinking bioluminescence with vibrations of footfalls on the pier.

Both of these memories could be corrupt. :)

Calypso, North...
Level Contributor
902 posts
1 review
3. Re: bioluminescence

Flor de Cana will do that.

Quite nicely. Enjoy the light show.

Tokyo, Japan
Destination Expert
for Hakone-machi, Minato
Level Contributor
7,772 posts
4. Re: bioluminescence

LOTS of bioluminescence, aka plankton, at Moonlight. There are other places, too, but Moonlight is just soooo close to West End! All my night dives include the "yoga moments" where we "bury our torch into our chest/stomach" and let our eyes (and minds) wander.

For me, the perfect dive is to go with small group, a guide who knows the topography and an expert captain waiting on the boat!

Hot shower and Flora soon thereafter! :-)

Menlo Park...
Level Contributor
5,774 posts
91 reviews
5. Re: bioluminescence

I saw something similar to what Nomadic mentioned, some light in the water as you stomp along a dock. I heard that these are worms. As Will said, lots of critters out there on a dark night. But surely the most fantastic are the string or pearls. Its not just cool bioluminescence. It's a behavior among individual organisms that defies explanation. Really. I defy you to look at that display and even begin to explain how they do that, how they can coordinate their display with others around them.

Tokyo, Japan
Destination Expert
for Hakone-machi, Minato
Level Contributor
7,772 posts
6. Re: bioluminescence

I saw some in Thailand that when you waved your hand (under water) they sparkled everywhere! It was as if I had my own fan club following me around with tiny LED lights! :-)

Here are some pretty cool photos from around the world.

https:/…

Level Contributor
201 posts
49 reviews
7. Re: bioluminescence

We snorkeled just in front of Bambuda Lodge on Isla Solarte in Panama, it was incredible. Any movement in the water caused it to light up, and if we just floated there in the dark it was as if there were a thousand little tiny lighthouses on the bottom communicating with each other. My exclamations of excitement and awe inside of my full face mask along with the pitch dark water made for some very comical gopro footage. I think somewhere on there is an eventual blip of light to prove we saw what we saw.

hudson valley
Level Contributor
3,249 posts
8. Re: bioluminescence

The good news is that bioluminescense is becoming even more abundant. The bad news is that bioluminescense is becoming even more abundant.

As it happens, I just saw some news articles about it last week. <rummages around in browser history>

livescience.com/58296-bioluminescent-algae-g…

www.popsci.com/tasmania-glowing-water-algae

Golden, BC
Level Contributor
125 posts
41 reviews
9. Re: bioluminescence

We saw some one night under the wooden walkway back to West Bay from Bite on the Beach. And no, it wasn't caused by too many monkey la la's :)

Florence, Alabama
Level Contributor
229 posts
23 reviews
10. Re: bioluminescence

We have seen bioluminescence in Sandy Bay. Down by the Blue Parrot. We intentionally stay up late, take the kayak out to see the sights on moonless nights. (So do the poachers) Sigh, I guess I'll never see a string of pearls but I am not giving up on a frogfish.

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