Drifting Through Glowing Waters
Florida’s Indian River hosts a magnificent natural occurrence during the warm summer months: bioluminescence. I came across a picture of bioluminescence one day and with a quick search I discovered that this spectacular display is only 45 minutes away from me. I could go on a bioluminescent kayak tour in Titusville, Florida. A scene from the movie Life of Pi came to mind, the one where Pi wakes up and finds that the sea is glowing around him and all the creatures are illuminated. This phenomenon is real; bioluminescence causes the surrounding water to light up, or glow, when movement is present.
Excitedly, I gathered information on bioluminescent kayak tours and reached out to my friends. Bioluminescence is better seen when there is less moonlight, so I used a Moon Phase Chart to pick the best day. On the day of our tour we arrived an hour early with just enough daylight left to fully appreciate the beautiful landscape. We were jittery with excitement as dusk started to fall. Our guides called us together to pair up, put on our lifejackets, and go over the guidelines and safety procedures. The nerves set in as my friend and I got into our kayak. I had never been on the water at night before, but our guides were calming and helpful. Soon we were in the water, our fears behind us.
The Bioluminescent Tour
My friend and I were towards the back of the group when we launched. Up ahead we heard ooohs and aaahs, the first lucky kayakers saw a manatee swimming through the bioluminescence. I began to see the bioluminescence around me as we strove to catch up. First, a single fish glowed as it zoomed by. Then a school of fish lit their way through the waters beside our kayak. As my eyes searched the water I saw the glow outlining crashing waves, the backs of other kayaks, and even our own oars. The beauty was amazing.
Our group came to a halt when we had kayaked far enough away from the land and lights. Only a faint glow could be seen from the ripple of the tide flowing since we were all at a stop. Our guides told us more about this phenomenon and then invited us to check it out. We couldn’t get in the water, but we could dip our hands in it.
As I reached into the water and swished my hand around, blue lights emitted. I couldn’t believe it, it looked like I was running my hand through a glow stick. Our guides told us to take some water and trickle it down our arms. I cupped my palm, and held some of the dancing light. It was incredible. I poured the water down my arm and the drops of light glittered on my skin, shining like diamonds. Around us, fish darted and streaked as lines of light flashed around. The moon was faint, but the stars were bright. There were twinkling lights above and below us. The world had never felt more at peace.
Bioluminescent Kayak Tour Information
Our guides told us that Florida has the brightest bioluminescence display and visitors from all over the world agree. My friends and I had never experienced anything like this before. To be specific, we went on a dinoflagellate bioluminescent tour. Our bioluminescent kayak tour was through A Day Away Kayak Tours in Titusville, FL. I highly recommend using this company. We were with a large group, but the tour still felt intimate and the guides were able to keep us all together and tell us about the bioluminescence throughout the trip. A Day Away Kayak Tours also has comb jelly bioluminescent kayak tours in the colder months and regular kayak tours year round. If you’re ever in Florida, carve out time for this incredible experience, you won’t regret it! The website for A Day Away Kayak Tours is: http://www.adayawaykayaktours.com
Update on 10/21/2016:
My friend and I went on a second bioluminescence kayak tour! We went in late August, and while the tour was still amazing, the bioluminescence wasn’t as bright. It was was more of a dull green, almost white instead of a bright blue like on my first trip. I think that going later in the month and at a different time in the Moon Phase calendar had something to do with this. We did the same tour as before: a 2 hour kayak tour with A Day Away Kayak Tours. We launched from Haulover canal and kayaked to Granny’s Cove, where we had free time for 25 minutes to play around with the bioluminescence. Then we kayaked a different way back to Haul Over canal.
I experienced a couple new things on this trip, seeing comb jellies was one of them! Our guides scooped them up with nets (which looked amazing in the bioluminescence) and put some in a jar. We all saw the comb jellies light up and got to hold them in our hands since the jellies don’t sting. When the comb jellies were hit by our oars in the water they lit up a bright blue and looked like dancing orbs in the water.
Our guides loved shining a flashlight on the water to make all of the malloch fish jump out of the water. There are herds of fish jumping in all directions, it’s incredible! One fish even jumped into our kayak. I think my favorite part about the second trip was seeing the stars. It’s so dark and remote out on the water and you get a great view of the gorgeous sky.
I wish I could post pictures of the bioluminescence. I didn’t take a camera with me on the water my first trip. This trip I took my iPhone and GoPro, but imaging bioluminescence is hard to capture. Despite my best attempts I wasn’t able to capture any images or video. So you’ll just have to go check it out for yourself!
Check out the Moon Phase Calendar, which is posted on A Day Away Kayak Tours’ website. You want to go when the moon isn’t as bright so you can see the bioluminescent better. Also, there are two launch times and you want to go on the later launch – it will be darker and the bioluminescence will be brighter!