Glow in the Dark Phytoplankton?

Has anyone ever seen the bioluminescent organisms that glow in the dark at Castine Harbor in Maine. There was a magazine article about it a few years ago in DownEast Magazine.

I’m just wondering if this is real, or something to bring in tourists. I once went on a similar excursion in La Parguera in Puerto Rico, but you could barely notice it.

Yup, biolum is totally real. Tends to be the color of a yellowish green glow stick. It needs to be really dark to get the best show. New moon, clouds, away from city lights. To much ambient and you won’t see it.

On the perfect night all you will see is a string of “sparks” from the waterlines of the boats around you (won’t see the boats). Dip your paddle and you get a funky swirly cloud. Cool stuff.


– Last Updated: Sep-02-08 7:36 PM EST –

"something to bring the tourists in" .

First few of them go outside their hotel or restaurant at night and you can betcha bippy none of em regular tourists are paddling.

Its not just in Castine..its a wonderful sensation to paddle at night with these phytoplankton.

But of course you read it in Down East... out statewide regurgitator of the six oclock news for the past month that all locals already know about.

Neat mag in some respects. I subscribe to the "Waiting in Supermarket Line Edition" its free

Not just Maine
They are elsewhere. Great in many other areas of the world, including the Chesapeake Bay. But the conditions have to be right.

I can’t tell you how many times …
… I’ve seen the “glowing aliens” moving with the tide near the top water , in the Chesapeake bay .

Too many times to count . I’ve dipped them out , sometimes they are jellys , sometimes little crabs , sometimes a little fish , sometimes stuff I don’t know what they are , but a creature anyhow …

never been to Castine Harbor
but they use that same old line to bring in the tourists in the Pacific Northwest too

Most salt water and Varible
Scuba diving I’ve been where waveing your hands caused a glow. In mobile bay I’ve had it make my anchor line glow. Out in the gulf one night my boats wake was glowing 30-40’ behind the boat and the dolphins would make glowing wakes. Dark nights are best and the intensity varies a lot.

Two major groups
Comb jellies - ctenophores (TEEN-O-FORS) commonly bioluminesce.

Some dinoflagellates also bioluminesce.

It was about time that degree in Marine Biology came in handy…

Hey there Patuxent …

– Last Updated: Sep-02-08 10:26 PM EST –

..... I think those are the real deal ones (comb jelly) that really do light up , like in a ring of lights , right ??

I've seen pics. and read about them , but if I remember correct , we don't have any around here , do we ?? ... Now they would really be cool to see !!

So anyway , what does makes those critters glow in the Ches. ?? It's a spooky green glow to them , but I'm pretty sure they aren't doing it themselves like those bioluminous jellys you mentioned ..


lots of biolumes there…

then you can also find Comb Jellies that have their little cilia refracting the light at night showing little changing rainbows in stripes…

VERY cool!


Try the south side of Castine Harbor
I was told that the best places to see bioluminescent plankton are in shallow water over mussel beds. I paddled in the the small coves on the south side of Castine Harbor (on the north side of Nautilus Island and the little peninsula to the east of it) and had very good luck.

yup - actual light production
How are you pilotwingz?

Ctenophores actually produce this light internally - its not a reflection. So many species do it that it is characteristic of this small phylum. If I ever knew the biochemistry of their light production, I’ve forgotten it. I’ve been under the impression that its related to the mechanism used by fireflies, but I could be wrong.

Its one of the enjoyable things about night paddles.

dino flatulence
causes sparkly water. man i learn something new here every day…

I’ve seen them at Popham Beach too nm