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About florida's bio bay

Glowing Algae in the Indian River Lagoon

This Place is a National Treasure

Did you know the Indian River Lagoon is considered a national treasure?  The northern end where we launch bioluminescence tour is part of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge that was created in the 1960s along with the space program at Kennedy Space Center.  This 104,000 acres of natural preserve is famous for many reasons - one of them is that is the #1 place to see bioluminescence in Florida. 


Bio Luminous Sea Life

The bio bay is actually a brackish lagoon that is the largest natural fish hatchery on the east coast of the USA.  This means many types of sea life spawn here.  The estuary is teeming with water creatures, including at least three that light up.   There are dinoflagellates (glowing algae) that light up the water with a bright blue-green glow in summer.  In winter, there are comb jellies that light up like little light bulbs in the water.  Also, there are snapping shrimp which create "sono-luminescence."  This is hard to see, but the snapping sound they make, creates a quick spark.  All of the creatures light up as a way to avoid predators. 


Bioluminescence History 

People have been reporting glowing water in Florida for hundreds of years. People used to call it "phosphorescence."  The first recorded mention of bioluminescence was from a scientist researching marine life in the Bahamas in 1906.  He called the luminescent algae Pyrodinium bahamense - Bahamian fire water!  Here in Florida, fisherman in the lagoon have many tales about the water lighting up in the darkness of night.  Perhaps that is why the manatees that frequent the lagoon seems like magical mermaids - the bioluminescent plankton that coats their body makes them glow in the dark! 


Bioluminescent Kayaking Tours

We have tours departing every night of the week during summer - June to Sep 30th.  Reserve your spot for a neon night on the water!