Bioluminescence: A natural nocturnal ocean occurrence

Ocean Institute offers a night cruise with Sea Explorer to witness "illuminating" phenomenon.

DANA POINT ― Having witnessed bioluminescence in local waters more than once, this ocean occurrence is truly an unbelievable sight. The first time the writer of this article laid eyes on the glowing ocean, she wondered if someone had slipped her a psychedelic drug. The second time she experienced bioluminescence, she watched in awe as the movement of fish streaked light through the water.

The Ocean Institute, a community-based 501(c)(3) organization, provides the public an opportunity to see and learn more about this amazing ocean phenomenon.

Ocean Institute is offering a Bioluminescence Night Cruise on July 21 and 22.

Passengers aboard Ocean Institute’s R/V Sea Explorer will be taken on a 2-hour night cruise out of Dana Point Harbor.

Marine organisms, such as algae and plankton, emit light. A net will be cast to catch these organisms and see them glow.

“When conditions are right, dinoflagellates bloom in dense layers at the surface of the water, causing the ocean to take on a reddish-brown color in daylight and a sparkly sheen as they move in the waves at night,” according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Portal website.

Predicting when this phenomenon occurs is not so easy.

“There is very large range of organisms that create bioluminescence, and they are in certain parts of the ocean at various times,” Ocean Network Canada’s staff scientist Fabio De Leo stated.

Certain conditions may make it more likely for bioluminescence to occur, such as when the water is calm, the water surface is warmer and there is no wind, according to De Leo.

For more information and to book this excursion, go online at bit.ly/2urEOqj.

Nina K. Jussila photo

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