Florida is full of wonders, and one gem is tucked away on the Space Coast.
During the summer, plankton – or dinoflagellates - make the waters in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge come to life. The plankton emit bluish and greenish lights. This is called bioluminescence.
This phenomenon is perhaps best-known in Puerto Rico, but you can see it up close a little more than 2.5 hours from Tampa. There’s a kayaking experience, the dino bio tour, that will bring you right to it.
The glow is visible in Merritt Island because there’s so little light. This dates back to 1962 when NASA acquired 140,000 acres near Cape Canaveral in order to create the John F. Kennedy Space Center. The unused portions of land, water and marshes became a wildlife refuge, so there’s very little light pollution.
If you go on the dino bio tour, know it’s nearly impossible to really capture the effect. Bioluminescence needs darkness, and cameras need light.
Furthermore, many of the images above are several years old. The bioluminescence isn't always so visible, thus, the waters are not always that colorful. It depends on the season and the particular day.
You can see bioluminescent comb jellyfish in this area. They glow when disturbed. Comb jellies, or ctenophores, aren’t actually jellyfish. These iridescent animals do not contain stinging cells.
A Day Away Kayak Tours offers both the dino bio tour and a comb jelly tour, in addition to other trips.The best time for the bioluminescence tour is June through the beginning of October. The comb jellies are seen better during the cooler months of the year. These tours depart at night. Be sure to bring bug spray.