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Kayaking in Bioluminescent Waters

Bioluminescent kayaking in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida is perhaps the best kayaking experience you will ever have as a kayaking enthusiast. In this natural phenomenon, the Indian River Lagoon becomes full of luminous organisms, during the summer and early fall months from June to September. If you visit the National Wildlife Refuge in Meritt Island and go kayaking in the India River Lagoon, you will get the chance to see luminous organisms in the lagoon.

When chemical reaction happens within the bodies of tiny living organisms, light is emitted and this is called bioluminescence. The best time to experience this is when the night skies are really dark. In the darkness of the night, the lagoon will light up with stunning aquatic light shows. Even the simple act of paddling your kayak produces a bioluminescent effect. IMagine yourself a painter holding a paddle paintbrush and painting on the wide canvas of the lagoon. Blue green neon light under the surface and glittery droplets are created when you stroke you paddle on the water.

Perhaps you want to know what kinds of creatures produce these lights. The creatures that make these lights are called dinoflagellates. These sea creatures are one-celled creatures which emit light. From early June through early October, these creatures swim in the Indian River Lagoon. These creatures create cold light within themselves just like fireflies do. Tiny fish, water droplets, sea grass, and kayakers hands are illuminated when dipped beneath the surface of the water. People are awed looking at this marvelous sight. It is difficult to imagine this by just describing it with words. It is something that you have to experience.

The Indian River Lagoon hosts another bioluminescent show during the months from mid-October through May. This time, it is the gelatinous comb jellies and not the dinoflagellates that are the stars of the show. Although commonly mistaken as jellyfish, comb jellies are not jellyfish. They are called comb jellies since they have giant, comb-like rows of cilia running up and down their bodies. The way they give out colors is either through bioluminescence or by light refraction. Bioluminescence is responsible for the blue green light emitted by comb jellies when disturbed and light refraction happens when the cilia moves. Cilia combs function as paddles for movement and while they move, they also scatter light. A pulsing, rainbow-like pattern is created by this movement. These two light shows from the dinoflagellates and from the comb jellies are similar to each other. The light shows may be the same, but the experience is distinct.

What the moon is not clearly visible, the skies are very dark and this is the best time to go bioluminescent kayaking. On a lunar calendar you can see when the new moon is, which is the darkest night of the month.

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