Starry, Watery Night

Bioluminescence kayaking 1

Bioluminescence is a magical, magical thing.

Tiny organisms called dinoflagellates emit bioluminescence when stirred in the water. If you give the water a good stir with your paddle, you see little stars light up like a witch’s cauldron. Or, for Harry Potter fans, like the Pensieve when a vial is poured into it.

Since light pollution makes it hard to see bioluminescence, the kayaking trip has to be somewhere dark and environmentally pristine (and have other climate factors too, for the scientifically inclined). We went up to Point Reyes, a nature preserve where we could see the stars and the Milky Way above, while the water lit up all around us. A seal even came and played in the water nearby, though we could hear but not see him (her?) in the dark.

Honestly, this experience ranks in the top 3 travel & nature experiences of my life thus far. And it’s so truly magical that it can’t even be captured by camera; bioluminescence is so ephemeral that even the light sensor on the camera tips itself off.

I apologize. I often say on this blog that pictures are better than words, but in this case, neither is adequate to describe bioluminescence kayaking. It just has to be experienced.

Bioluminescence kayaking 2

Flocks of birds nest on Hog Island (right) and Duck Island (left). We paddled in between the two and it smelled delightfully of guano.

Bioluminescence kayaking 3

Here’s the link to Point Reyes Outdoors. You have to reserve well in advance, but this is so worth it. So, so worth it.

In case you’re wondering? Another travel & nature experience on my top-three list is the Sentiero Azzuro in Cinque Terre. These two stand out above the others in my mind. As for what the third would be… well, apparently I’ve got to keep exploring to find out! Here’s to more adventures :)

Photo credits: Thanks D!


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