Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bioluminescence

This summer I've been paddling on Tomales Bay at night when the moon is not in the sky. It is very dark. Except for the water which explodes in blue green bioluminescent light with every paddle stroke. It's a mesmerizing experience that leaves me in speechless wonder.

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).

5 comments:

steven said...

dan - i totally get your quiet. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Yes, it's a reverent sort of quiet, a good one. I'm discovering the night in a place I've visited in daylight hours for almost fifty years. Night on the water is a whole new world.

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

That must be a wonderful experience.

Happy Days

Delwyn said...

Do you men that you've had a break from Blogging too or from teaching?

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Delwyn,

I'm still teaching—really enjoying it this year—because I have a great class and TWO male colleagues on the staff for the first time in 31 years there, some easy company for me at last. I am very, very happy at work.

The break is from blogging and following blogs (you inspired me, Delwyn). Just too much time. I've been actively engaged in our local community and in paddling more than ever.