Bioluminescence: secret phenomena, beauty unseen

No one really knows why phytoplankton light up.

Bioluminescence in Parksville Qualicum Beach
Phil Hart Photo

For zooplankton and larger animals there are more theories about communication, mating and luring prey. It certainly helps diving ducks hunt at night. More theories are detailed in this video.

“ Even the waves light up as in this photo taken by Phil Hart. ”


For the best viewing choose a moonless night and dark area away from city lights. By 9pm it is usually dark enough. The light is activated by agitation of the water. Snorkelling in it is great fun, as the organisms light up as you approach giving the effect of travelling at light speed through the stars. You can see sparkling fairy trails left behind fish. Even the waves light up as in this photo taken by Phil Hart.

A great video of this can be seen here.

This is a guest article by Patrick Walshe, Biologist, Coastal Revelations Nature Tours.

For more Parksville Qualicum Beach experiences like this, check out our Outdoors Activities page.

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