Bioluminescence – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by WeichengHan
Many are unaware of the hidden wonder sitting right along Florida’s Space Coast.
Florida’s Space Coast sits right in the center of the sunshine state’s east coast. Its name comes from Cape Canaveral, the launching point for many of NASA’s space missions. It is just 45 minutes away from Orlando, making it the perfect spot for an addition to a Disney getaway. Regardless, the area is an incredible place to visit thanks to the natural wonders it holds, which includes the presence of bioluminescent algae.
The bioluminescent waters, Visit Florida explains, is “a peculiar natural phenomenon in which tiny, marine organisms called dinoflagellates glow, generating cold white light through an internal chemical reaction like a firefly. The organisms are too small to see, but with some 200,000 to 300,000 in a single liter of water they can cause the water to glow the color of a fluorescent blue-green glow stick.” Simply put, bioluminescence happens through chemical reactions that take place within living things, which release energy in the form of light. It acts as an alarm system whenever an organism is disturbed, excited, or stimulated. Organisms also use this as a way to communicate with other members of the species.
These bioluminescent waters are a phenomenon that is rather rare around the world, usually happening within algae blooms. An example of this is the bloom that happened off the coast of Southern California in 2020, resulting in some really cool glow-in-the-dark dolphins. This is a regular occurrence along the Space Coast in the summer months, making it an out-of-this-world experience.
Visitors should head to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at night to really see the magic in action. It is suggested to go with a guide, as this requires permits.
An option is purchasing a tour through companies such as BK Adventure, which offers a sunset tour of the Haulover Canal. Here, visitors can birdwatch and catch dolphins or manatees swimming by. Once sunset hits, guests can stop and have a picnic before jetting off to kayak into the beautiful bioluminescent glow.
“It’s like a magical light show in the water. Most people walk away saying, ‘I don’t even know how to describe this,” Mike Mahan, owner of A Day Away Kayak Tours in Titusville, another outfitter offering tours stated. “When you startle a school of fish it looks like bright blue bottle rockets going off under the water.”
The entire BK Adventure tour is about three hours long and costs $75 per person, while A Day Away’s bioluminescent tours begin at $49.95 per person. To really get the full experience, visitors are encouraged to book A Day Away’s clear kayak tour which takes place in the same location. For just $69.95 per person, attendees won’t miss a single glowing creature swimming beneath them.
Are you interested in Florida’s nature? For stories like this and much more: Florida Insider is dedicated to educating, entertaining and informing its readers about everything Florida. Easy to read content at the palm of your hands and covering the stories that matter.
Mike has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and public relations. He once owned his own agency and has worked with some of the largest brands in the world.