Friday, March 4, 2011


Let me tell you about bioluminescence. Supposedly, according to the experts at wikipedia, it's a chemical reaction called chemiluminescence that happens in plants and animals that cause them to secrete a glowing chemical.

Last weekend, I experienced said chemical reaction up close and personal on an island off the coast of Ranong, Thailand. Ollie and I were in the area for work and decided to check it our for the weekend. Beautiful. Amazing. Sleeping in a beach shack, swinging in the hammock for hours on end singing Harry Belafonte out loud to myself and anyone passing by.

Our first night, we went to a beach party. Rasta music. Groovy bartenders and westerners doing things the judge and Dr Harris would not approve of. On our walk down the beach to said get-together, I noticed little greenish glowing dots in Ollie's footprints. I thought it was wicked cool, but forgot about it.

After the beach party (which was actually a fundraiser for some burnt-out drunk on the island), I decided to pay tribute to Michael Stipe and go for a swim.

So we run for it, making a mad dash into the calm, black water, under some of the brightest stars I've ever seen. But I look to my right and every step Ollie takes into the water, he is surrounded by tiny lightbulbs. Like swimming fireflies. BIOLUMINESCENCE.

As it turns out, there was a school(?) of illuminated plankton in the ocean that day, and just by coming into contact with these invisibly small creatures, cause the chemical reaction that lights them up. I can't quite explain it. Just think of swimming in the warm ocean at night, unable to see where the horizon meets the sky, surrounded by a miracle of nature that you didn't even know existed.

It wasn't until the next day that I found out how bad an idea it could have been. Apparently sharks feed at night, and the glowing plankton attract them to their prey. That may be why we had the water to ourselves...

1 comment:

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