I've found no way to adequately convey the miracle of paddling in dark waters that light up. My photography skills are not up to the task.
I just ran across this video on Boing Boing that shows surfing in bioluminescent waters south of where I live. If you watch it, you'll have some idea of what's been keeping me away from blogging this summer.
Red Tide Surfing San Diego 2011 Bioluminescence from Loghan Call on Vimeo.
More on biolume from Maggie Koerth-Baker's Boing Boing post:
Phytoplankton are tiny, plant-like organisms that live in the ocean and are, basically, at the very bottom of the food chain. But, sometimes, they get their revenge. When lots and lots and lots of phytoplankton get together, they can form what we call a "red tide," a discoloration of the water at a particular point where the plankton have become densely concentrated.
Some red tides are natural. Others happen when nutrient runoff from farm fertilizers creates a massive buffet for plankton. Some red tides can kill, as the plankton can produce toxins and their deaths reduce the oxygen content of the water. And sometimes, red tidesglow in the dark.
The phytoplankton in this red tide off a California beach are bioluminescent. Their cells produce a chemical reaction that creates a soft, blue-green glow. It's basically the same thing that makes lightning bugs light. In this video by Loghan Call and Man's Best Media, you can see plankton light up in the beach (and a few surfers).