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Photo: Living lights of the Pacific

Going at night by the moon, with lanterns and no tourists...this is the only way a local does this trip.

We rowed a little boat from the bigger boat to a small beach, and though it was dark, the water was completely alive with phosphorescence. The paddles fully illuminated with every stroke we cut into the water's surface, and fish of every size, shape, speed, and depth were visible and glowing underwater. I dipped my arm in the water to my elbow and pulled it out again to gawk at the green sparkling water as it peeled away and then trickled from my skin.

Before this I had only ever seen bioluminescence vaguely (by comparison) in the shoreline as sparse sparks in the sand here and there. Where the nutrient-rich spring water meets the cove was glowing green, and we all marveled.

As we all sat in the pools that night, talking and sharing stories, my friend described one of his favorite bioluminescence encounters from that same spot where we were.

...it was at night of course, and an otter pulled up and out onto the rocks, the otter fully glowing and visible against the pitch black forest, got itself steady and began to shake the water from its heavy coat. The otter sprayed the water in a sparkling mist from which it then disappeared out of the center.

So easy to imagine after rowing through the living light Pacific ocean.

Message to Canadians: These glowing waters, were a sign of abundant sea life. Sadly in this very moment, someone who comes across this phenomena might believe the glow to be something radioactive.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/pacific-ocean-stories/living-lights-of-the-pacific/

By Marguerite Yarmi

Vancouver, B.C.

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3 Comments

Oct 23, 2012
6:18 AM

wow that is such a beautiful painting I love it Sue, and the story of it I have memories of going to Salt Spring with Mary and the kids and clam digging and watching the water at night.

Oct 11, 2012
11:03 PM

As I walked along the Pacific shore one evening during a full moon, I noticed that all the waves coming in were glowing with an inner light. I stared with curiosity, and as the waves got closer and closer and larger and larger, I was in awe as to what would happen when they hit the shore. The light filled waves spilled onto the beach making long silvery lines repeating in the sand with each crashing wave all the way along the shore creating glowing wave designs for as far as I could see. When I stopped in amazement and looking behind me, I saw that all my footprints were glowing in the beach. It was one of the most awesome events of my life!

Oct 09, 2012
9:27 PM

Thank you Marguerite Yarmi for your account of your close encounters of the bioluminescence kind.

My first experience was in the 1970s. By then I was a frequent visitor to BC. Long story short, I was invited to a weekend camp-out on the far side of Bowen Island. Somebody brought a canoe. It was a warm mid-summer night with a new moon.

Someone climbed in to the bow, I got the mid-ship spot, and when the helmsman was getting in he upset the canoe, and in we went. "What the…?!" The reaction to an unexpected midnight dip was soon upstaged by the sparkling magic waters of this baptism in what I later learned to appreciate as the Salish Sea.

We played in those magical waters until our lips turned blue and we had to return to the campfire for warmth and to share our story with the others.

It was years before anyone thought to call it Super, Natural British Columbia.

I wish that I could take the money changers to see what wealth we already have from the perspective of an upset canoe.

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