Bioluminescent Bay in La Parguera, Puerto Rico (Also known as The Night I Swam with Jellyfish)

If you haven’t seen a bioluminescent bay in person, google it right now.  It’s incredible.  The water is full of dinoflagellates that glow blue when they move.  This means the water glows when you move (and when it’s dark enough out, of course).  There are quite a few bio bays around the world, but one of the best is found by La Parguera, Puerto Rico.  This cute little town was under construction when I last visited, but in theory it’ll be done by the time you make it there.  Either way, their bio bay operation is up and running!  If you sign up for this adventure, a lovely tour company will take you and your friends out on their boat at the optimal viewing time.  It takes about twenty minutes to get from the shore to the protected cove that is dark enough to see any form of bioluminescence.  The view at first is a little unimpressive, just dark water and stars.  Then the captain dives into the water and the ocean comes to life with sparkling blue creatures.

One not so brave soul in our group asked the captain what else was in the water.  Makes sense to me, black ocean that’s twenty or so feet deep make me question what could be in there too.  The captain assured us there might be a few schools of fish but that’s about it, and they’d be far too deep for us to notice.  So we hop in and become enchanted by the blue glitter that follows in our wake.  Almost everyone is now in the water when the first girl rushes back to the boat in tears.  She didn’t want to freak the rest of us out, but her bright red arm did that for us.

Apparently the captain forgot to mention the swarm of jellyfish that enjoyed hanging out in the bay.  These weren’t normal jellyfish either.  Known as moon jellies, they prefer to swim upside down, as in tentacles up, and are found five to six feet below the surface.  If you’re short (like me) or aren’t a particularly rambunctious swimmer you won’t even know there’s jellyfish in the water.  Unfortunately for six of the eighteen of us, they didn’t fall into either category and came back to the boat sooner than they wanted with jellyfish stings in various places (mostly ankles and wrists).

But no worries, the pain only lasted a few hours and the redness went away by the next morning.  And I didn’t get stung, so even better.  Even if I had, the experience would have been well worth it to be able to say I went swimming with jellyfish.


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