After maria, one of the world’s best bioluminescent coves slowly began to glow.
On a normal night, dozens of visitors will shine at Mosquito Bay’s glowing sea creatures named after a legendary pirate ship in the Puerto Rican city of vieques. But one night in mid-december, it was empty. The loudest voice was the croaking frog in the mangrove.
Maria hurricane with eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico island cause serious damage, damage to the power system, destroyed homes, undermined its luminous bay, this is one of the most beautiful in the world, also is the lifeline of the important tourism. In the weeks after the storm, the water was very dark.
But as the gulf’s subtle chemical reactions recover from the destructive winds and fresh water of the hurricane, slowly, it begins to glow again. Nearly three months after the storm, we went kayaking with Angie Hernandez, a guide for Black Beard Sports, an ecotourism company based in Vieques. The stars have beautiful heads.
We’re here tonight, looking down at the bright sea creatures called flagella. These single-celled plankton lights up when disturbed. When the plankton is abundant and the conditions are optimal, wave your hands in the water and leave a shimmering light.
The species here is blue-green. It’s called Pyrodinium bahamense, or “the whirlwind of the Bahamas.” ‘when the bay is full of light, you can actually tell what kind of fish is moving underwater, depending on the shape of the glow,’ Hernandez and another tour guide said. The leaping fish left glowing marks on the surface. When it rained, they said the whole water was bright.
According to Edith Widder, a bioluminescent expert and co-founder of the Marine research and conservation society, luminescence is a defense mechanism for these creatures, which is common to plants and animals. Lightning may alert larger predators, whether they interfere with the presence of plankton.
As a result, the behavior of single-celled organisms is very complex and the boy may be spectacular.
But the hurricane damaged the light show. The rain caused a great deal of fresh water to disturb the chemistry of the bay. According to Widder, hurricane Maria destroyed mangroves around the bay and provided the necessary vitamins for the flagella.
And strong winds can actually push bioluminescent organisms into the open sea. Hernandez added: “the wind may be pushing water out of the bay. She says it will take several months before other hurricanes are known to shine again in the gulf.
We stopped at a place near the bay, reached into the water and left a ray of light. “I push forward and you see a ball, like a light,” said hernandez.
It’s amazing, but it’s just a small part of normal brightness, she says – maybe two of the 10. This is a video created by a recent visitor, Vieques, giving a sense of brilliance:
Mike Corey YouTube
Widder says there are only a handful of bioluminescent coves in the world – and there were a lot of them before. “None of them are as bright as they used to be, and this is sad.”
She says pollution is actually more powerful than a hurricane. “We’re releasing so much stuff into the water, but we’re not really aware of its impact on these very complex ecosystems.”
Mark Martin blass, head of research at the trust and history trust, has been drawing water samples every week to monitor the bay. Since the storm, he said, they have seen the fluctuations in light, and it is not clear how long it will take for the gulf to recover. But he added: “the sea world has a way of surviving and cleaning itself out of these natural disasters.”
He says the difficult situation offers an opportunity to learn more about how the ecosystem handles powerful hurricanes. It reminds people: “the attraction of the island and its power come from the natural world, and you want to protect them rather than use them.” He said it was the crown jewel of the natural wonders of the island. “It’s magic.”
In the gulf, hernandez said, the flickering light from the water is a relief. Life after maria was extremely difficult. She had not been running water for weeks. She had only a handful of travel experiences. But tonight she could see the bay back.
“Now that I see the news, it gives me a lot of hope,” she said.