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What to do in PuertoRico

Puerto Rico's Phosphorescent Bays

Posted by Gilda Fisher on March 11, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Imagine the blackness of the sea on a moonless night.  Now watch it sparkle with the darting lights of a million fireflies. Hidden along the Caribbean coast is one of the most spectacular Bioluminescent Bays or Phosphorescent Bays in the world.  A trip into the bay is a magical experience. Fish flash by in dark water, and swimming is like floating through a glow in the dark picture. Nature lovers will not want to miss the phenomenal experience of visiting a tropical phosphorescent bay!

The phosphorescence is actually bioluminescence generated by microscopic organisms in the water. It is believed to be part of a natural defense system triggered by the movement of predators. Many scientists believe the tiny organisms light up so their predators can see more desirable prey ? and thus leave them alone.

The phenomenon occurs sporadically in warm seas around the world, but Puerto Rico is one of the only places on the planet where you can depend on it every evening at two different protected bays. The best known is at La Parguera, between Mayaguez and Ponce in the southwest of the island, a cottage industry village that is based on showing the bay to visitors.

The more spectacular phosphorescent bay is in Vieques, the island municipality off of the main island?s northeastern shore. To get to Vieques you may choose to take the ferry, which takes about an hour and is very inexpensive or, a small plane, which only takes a few minutes.

The most unique nights to go are the first and second nights after the full moon, as the moon rises an hour after sunset the first night and, almost two hours as the moon rises after sunset on the second night. This gives you time to experience the bioluminescence with no moon and then watch the moon rise.  The experience of seeing and being surrounded by this eerie light is nothing less than magical!

Note:  The photo above was re-created in the computer.  This gives a feeling of the real experience and it represents what you see there.  People often exclaim when they kayak at the bay: "Wow, we thought the picture was unreal but it really is like that!" 

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