A Bioluminescent Bay Has Suddenly Gone Dark
Change threatens tourist economy of Puerto Rico's Vieques
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 8, 2014 7:37 AM CDT
Vieques island is shown here, though this is not a shot of Mosquito Bay.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

(Newser) – Puerto Rico's Mosquito Bay has long awed visitors with its magical glow, the result of plankton called dinoflagellates that "shimmer." This year, however, what Gizmodo dubs "one of the world's most spectacular natural sights" has gone dark. In January, the bay—located about 10 miles from the mainland on the island of Vieques—stopped glowing, and experts don't know why, the New York Times reports. And though the glow has recently returned somewhat, it's quite dim. That's bad news, of course, for the environment: Such bioluminescent sites are a rare phenomenon. It's also bad news for a tourist-dependent economy; hundreds of tourists normally gather daily at the bay.

One theory is that winds in the area recently shifted northward, which could have propelled the dinoflagellates into the Caribbean Sea, says a marine biologist. The winds also increase the bay's turbidity, impeding bioluminescence. The blackout has heightened tension between locals and tourist companies that visit the area. Tourists still have permission to visit, but locals now have to pay the companies to see the spot, too, says a fisherman. As for whether the bay's current weak glow will strengthen again, history may not be much of a guide: Some of the planet's bioluminescent bays have resumed their glow after darkening; others have stayed completely dark. (In the meantime, check out four other neat places to swim, including one where you'll be alongside "monster jellyfish.")

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Showing 3 of 5 comments
Jun 8, 2014 1:07 PM CDT
Hey, if the flagellates are gone, there's no use beating yourself up over it.
Jun 8, 2014 9:26 AM CDT
Maye someone should point these experts in right directions and tell them what's going on. Just ask locals and I am sure they know why. Could it be a global warming and the pollution from the ocean dumped trash.
Jun 8, 2014 8:42 AM CDT
Could it be man's doing? Nah.....man respects the environment. Never dumps trash in the oceans or pollutes the atmosphere. Makes sure that global warming never happens. Instead, it must be a sign from God that we haven't paid our electrical bill so the lights will go out until we do.