Getting The Most Of Your Bioluminescence Experience On Grand Cayman With Pictures

If you’re headed to the Caribbean this winter, or anytime for that matter, one of the most incredible experiences that you should check out is the bioluminescent swimming area at the Grand Cayman Islands. Of course, there are plenty of other things to do during your stay, including snorkeling, fishing, diving pirate ships, shopping and just plain sunbathing as well. However, if you’ve never had the opportunity to swim at night in one of the brightest bioluminescent pools on Earth, Grand Cayman has it for you. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Bioluminescence Is The Creation Of Light By Plankton

Plankton are these tiny, nearly microscopic creatures that occupy all of the oceans worldwide. But, there are some that have the ability to glow in the dark due to some inherited genes they possess. While there are places that have a few of these creatures in the water, there is no comparison to the huge concentration you’ll find off Grand Cayman Island. You’ll want to book a tour and use a guide the first few times to make sure you find them and don’t waste your time.
dinoflagellate
bioluminescence
When you book the tour you should get one that supplies small paddle boats so you can get out away from the shore a little and have your own light show. Each time you touch the water with your hands or even the paddle, the lights they emit will surprise and amaze you. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and you should bring your children if at all possible.
The Bio Boats that take you to the light show are specially designed to make access to the water and the show easier for children and adults. Make sure that the tour you go on has this type of access. Plus, while you’re touching the water and watching the lights the guide will be explaining in detail what makes them glow and why they are so concentrated in the local area. If you do a guided night activity in Grand Cayman, you will most likely be shown by the guide how to take images of the bioluminescence.
bio bay

Getting Good Pictures Can Be Difficult

One of the hardest things about the light show is trying to explain it to the people back home. The best way, of course, is to show them dozens of pictures you’ve taken so they get the idea. They can be challenging to get a good picture of so here’s what you need to do. The Cayman Islands tends to have low levels of light pollution allowing you to take images well.
Open the aperture of your camera very wide to accept as much light as possible. Otherwise, your pictures will all come out too dark. A setting of about F2.8 should do and then slow your shutter speed down to allow a longer exposure. Try times between 8 seconds and 20 seconds, then take plenty of pictures so you can delete the ones you don’t like. A long exposure time will make the plankton appear brighter and more flowing, giving the photo an appearance of moving traffic at night.
When it comes to focusing you’ll most likely have to guess the distance and set it manually since the autofocus won’t work, it can’t read the distance of the plankton in the water. You can also try shining a flashlight on the water and set the autofocus on that reading too. But, try both, digital images are easy to delete and you don’t want to miss this once in a lifetime chance to get some of the greatest pictures ever.
Whether you’re going to the Caymans for the fishing, snorkeling, or even the swimming with stingrays excursion, don’t miss out on the bioluminescence tour. Once you’ve been there it will be the highlight of your vacation and you’ll talk about it for years.

The Bioluminescence Explanation

The bioluminescent glow that is created from physico-chemical reactions starts when dinoflagellate single-celled organisms are disturbed. This typically occurs as a type of defense mechanism that causes a chemical based chain reaction which causes a green, blue glow which will last for as long as this organism is disturbed. The reaction happens due to a highly specific nutrients found in the ocean water that is what sustain these organisms.

Today there are a few bioluminescent bays found on the Island of Vieques. One of the brightest is “Mosquito Bay”. Various aspects need to come together in one location for the bioluminescence in the area if Puerto Mosquito along as elsewhere in order to evolve, these include:

•Mangroves that surround this particular bay that offer the right habitat for a very specific bacterium that produces vitamin B12 in very large quantities which is the metabolic by-product.

•The actual mouth of this particular bay is narrow enough that prevents the water from being flushed out into the sea, which would decrease or dilute dinoflagellate populations.

•These locations are remote which means there is no pollution present.

•The temperature also needs to be constant and warm within in a specific and narrow range.

•The actual water also needs to be calm enough which means that the majority of saltier water will sink and eventually travel back to the ocean caused by the mild undercurrents. This is because these organisms are unable to thrive in saltier water.

•The natural predator population would also need to be low.

The Scientific Bioluminescence Explanation

The reaction that causes bioluminescence is explained as a direct conversion of a chemical energy into a light energy. In regards to the bioluminescent-bay organisms which are Dinoflagellates luminosity is believed to be possible due to defense mechanisms.

This reaction starts with a large-packet creation or a quantum related to light energy such as energy or photon quantum from a specialized type of physico-chemical process. This process involves recombination’s of hyroperoxide or oxide radicals which involves specific molecules which undergo chemical changes when affixed by the enzyme known as substrate D-luciferin, adenosine triphosphate or ATP. This is known as the energy-storing molecules for all living organisms as well as oxygen.

These reactions are controlled by luciferase which is a biological catalyst or enzyme which accelerates as well as controls the speed of chemical reactions that occur inside each of the dinoflagellate cells.