Imagine sliding your paddle board into dark waters, only to have them come to life, shimmering and glowing with each stroke of your paddle. You can have this magical experience by going on a bioluminescent stand up paddleboarding tour. When conditions are right, you can experience a beautifully glowing journey while coasting along on your board.
Florida is an ideal spot for bioluminescent stand up paddleboarding, with different experiences available depending on the time of year. Merritt Island, Florida, near Cocoa Beach, offers nighttime paddling and kayaking through the calm waters of the Indian River Lagoon. During the months of June through early October, bioluminescent plankton light up the waters with a sparkling glow. There are also large schools of mullet here, leaping from the waters as you paddle by.
What makes this glow? Tiny creatures called dinoflagellates, single-celled organisms which emit a chemically produced light visible to the human eye when grouped in large numbers. They are actually always in the water, but there are typically not enough of them to be detectable. This chemical reaction is caused when movement disrupts the water, and may be a defense mechanism, warning off predators. Bioluminescent stand up paddleboarding doesn’t harm these creatures, as your paddling is simply moving the water around them.
For a different type of experience, October through March brings jellyfish to Merritt Island. Much like the dinoflagellates, these tiny creatures become aglow when the water around them is disturbed by a passing SUP or even by darting fish in the water. Check out this cool video of what a bioluminescent stand up paddleboarding tour is like in Merritt Island!
Image via spookypeanut