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Where in the World are You?...Mosquito Bay; Vieques, Puerto Rico

Updated on March 23, 2014
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Mosquito Bay; Vieques, Puerto Rico

Yes, as a matter of fact that picture is of a woman in a kayak and yes that is water in which she is paddling that kayak.

When I first stumbled across pictures of this unique phenomenon I thought it was some sort of trick photography or possibly Photoshopped, it wasn’t until I experienced it with my own two eyes that I finally believed in what I was seeing. The process at work in this large body of water that is partially protected from certain forces of nature is not nearly as unique as I had initially thought, turns out it is fairly common but not in such a concentrated area. As it turns out, this location has been certified as the brightest of its type ever recorded.

When the options of trick photography or Photoshop are eliminated one may then choose to believe that what they are looking at is some sort of magic trick. However, there is absolutely no magic involved here, just a biological production and emission of light by a group of flagellate protists when agitated. As was previously mentioned, the process at work here is far from rare, what makes it rare is the three-quarters of a million of these for every one gallon of water. When agitated by swimmers or by boats, these half-animals, half-plant organisms emit a flash of light, creating the effect in the picture above.

When the region was initial discovered by a leader in European colonialism they initially believe the lights in the water to be the work of the devil. In an effort to reduce the influence of said devil, large boulders were put in place to block seawater from entering this partially protected body of water; instead of ending the effect this decision actually preserved the process for us to experience all these years later.

The first colonial to discover this location was later forced out by an alternate colonial power, one that still holds great sway in the region. Toward the end of the last century and the beginning of the current one, this power was challenged in the location where this body of water is located. It seems this powerful nation was using the location as test facility for the detonation of explosive ordnance, which evidently was not particularly popular with the local residents. After this nation was forced out, the majority of the island was set aside a nature preserve, including the body of water of which I am speaking (sort of). Apparently this protection did not come soon enough; it has been written that the glow currently emitted by these organisms is merely ten percent of its original strength. So again, I ask you…Where in the World are You?


Mosquito Bay on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, is an ecological treasure of this relatively unknown Caribbean island. The bioluminescence effect created when microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates become agitated by outside interference, such as a swimmer or kayaker, and emit the neon blue glow seen in the picture above. The effect is far from rare, dinoflagellates are actually quite common, but thing that makes Mosquito Bay unique is the amount of dinoflagellates found in the water of the bay. Current measurements of the waters of the bay put the amount of dinoflagellates at around 720,000 for every gallon of water in the bay.

When the Spanish first ventured into Puerto Rico and discovered Bahia Mosquito, Mosquito Bay, they believed the bioluminescence effect to be the work of the devil. In their zeal to rid the world of all things evil, they dumped huge boulders in the mouth of the bay hoping to mitigate the effects of the dinoflagellates; the result was the exact opposite of the intended effect, and actually concentrated the effect. How much longer it will last seems to be the subject of some disagreement, due to pollution and other forces the effect is but ten percent of the original strength.

The island of Puerto Rico is currently a commonwealth of the United States, making Vieques part of the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In the years after World War Two and during the Cold War, the United States Navy used a portion of the island as a weapons testing range. In 1999, a civilian naval employee was killed by an errant bomb while manning his guard post at the facility, leading to protests against the continued presence of the Navy and the use of Vieques as a testing facility. In 2003, the United States Navy abandoned its facility on Vieques and much of the land that had been used as a weapons testing range was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vieques,_Puerto_Rico#Bioluminescent_Bay

http://www.biobay.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioluminescence

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    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Mosquito Bay; Vieques, Puerto Rico

    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Ian...nicely done once again. What we are looking at in this photo is bioluminescence effect on Bahia Mosquito, or Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques off the coast and part of Puerto Rico.

    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      mours sshields...it really is beautiful isn't it? And fascinating. Thank you for your continued participation and reading and commenting.

    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      teaches12345...it really is fascinating to see. Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment.

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I love your descriptions of colonial powers!

      Well, Mr Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sherlock and I reckon that this place is on a wee (changed my mind from a largish one) island called Vieques - part of Puerto Rico - more exactly it could be Bahia Mosquito and Fajardo on this island.

      So, Ryan, is that any good or am I thousands of miles out?

      Best regards from a wet Scotland!

      Ian.

    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      UnnamedHarald...I imagine that this type of thing would give naval vessals a fit, especially if they're operating at night and trying to be covert about their manuevers. Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment.

    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Ian...I am reluctant to give any clues on this one, too liberally and I will give it away. So I will say this...it is definitely an island.

    • rlbert00 profile image
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      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Michele Travis...I don't mind at all. I thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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      mours sshields 5 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Very beautiful and interesting!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Wow, this is awesome. Can't wait to find out where it is.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I think this is in the Pacific somewhere-- that hardly counts as a guess!! If I remember right, navies during ww2 had to take this phenomenum into consideration.

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I think you're somewhere in the Caribbean today, Ryan - on a largish island not far from the Dominican Republic - am zooming in with my magnifying glass....

      Ian.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      voted you up because your questions are very good. But, I never give the correct answer. So, will be checking back later to find out where the place is. If you don't mind.