Friday, February 22, 2013


The cool, still sea reflected a September night of the darkest blue.  No moon or other light was there to compete with the blazing stars wheeling over our quiet anchorage in the San Juan Islands. Arching across the center of the sky, the Milky Way glittered like a rainbow left behind by a magician’s wand.

After a meal fit to please the most particular foodie, and an evening of pleasant conversation, the handful of passengers aboard the Motor Vessel David B had gone to their cabins. 

I wasn’t ready to go below and was taking in a few more moments on deck to stare at the magical sky and listen to the silence.

Captain Jeffrey came up beside me with a crab pot tied to a rope and baited with a can of cat food.  It looked like crab would be on tomorrow’s menu. A glowing spatter went up as the crab pot hit the water. Christine had also come on deck and we both exclaimed at the bright but cool glow released by the splash.

We were seeing the effect of bioluminescent plankton.  Jeffrey pulled up the crab pot and again threw it overboard.  Once more, light was created when it hit the surface.  The living light was caused by tiny animals in the sea which gave off a chemical luminosity similar to the substances in a glow stick.

Again and again Jeffrey tossed the crab pot to produce the flashy splashes. 

I was too astonished to even think of taking photos.  Fortunately I found several pictures of this phenomenon on a web site hosted by the photographer, Phil Hart.

Here is a YouTube video I found as well.  It will probably be cluttered up with some ads but you’ll be able to see the brilliant splash created when the guys toss something into the water.  Then it’s replayed again in slow motion so you can see the Sorcerer’s Apprentice effect of stars in the water.

Click here to see what we found in the crab pot the next morning.


joeh said...

Veery cool!!

fishducky said...

Isn't nature amazing?!!

Alica said...

This is so cool! I remember in the movie Apollo 13, Tom Hanks talking about this phenomena. He was flying a fighter jet when his power went out. He saw the brilliant blue that was stirred up in the wake of the aircraft carrier, and found his way back to the ship. Yes, it was a movie...but still fascinating! :)

Mary said...

That's amazing -- like fireworks in the water. :)

Country Girl said...

Oh, this is wonderful!