Many holidays throughout the world celebrate with fireworks displays, the Chinese New Year and the 4th of July in the United States as well as New Years worldwide are just a few of the holidays that come to mind. Beautiful pyrotechnic displays abound with loud pops, bangs and booms and the light show that fills the sky is ever changing. Many people could do without the acoustical accompaniment that is associated with these displays but they endure. What if you could get to see this type of display without the loud pops, bangs and booms? Well you could watch it on TV and just turn the volume down but there is nothing like seeing it all live and in person. What if I told you that you can see something similar without all the noise just by grabbing your mask fins and snorkel and going night snorkeling? This is all due to bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence a phenomenon that is found all through the marine environment. It is light that is emitted by organisms in the water. These organisms are from chemical reactions of the organism which are released in the form of energy. While many people think this bioluminescence is only found in the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, it is quite common in shallow water and even at the water's surface.
The creatures capable of this bioluminescence are quite numerous but the question of why they have it and what they use it for is a study that can last a lifetime. Experiments have pinned down some of proposed functions such as luring prey with the obvious example being the deep water Anglerfish.
There are a few places found in the world that have an abundance of this bioluminescence, actually 3 locations in Puerto Rico and and another is Halong Bay in Vietnam. These bays are sheltered and rich in nutrients in which the bioluminescent organisms thrive. Snorkeling in The Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico at one time stopped allowing snorkelers in the waters due to the negative impact of sunscreens and mosquito repellents that wash off the snorkelers bodies on the organisms themselves. So check with the local dive store to see if they are still offering tours. This writer, had the opportunity to go to all 3 in Puerto Rico.
As was previously stated, bioluminescent marine life is not a rare occurrence and can be found in all parts of the ocean. Places where the simple act of waving your hand through the water can cause a trail of light. Where watching the person who is snorkeling with you kick through the water as there fins leave a sparkling trail. These fireworks don't need a holiday in order to happen so next time you are looking for a beautiful display of fireworks without having to cover your ears, go night snorkeling.