TRY THIS: You don’t have to travel halfway across the world to see the extraordinary phenomenon of bioluminescence. Adventurers of the Pacific Northwest are in luck. You can grab a kayak and enjoy the shimmering sea in your very own Hood Canal.
WHY TO TRY IT: Imagine floating along the canal, shrouded in the obscurity of night. Out of nowhere, explosions of turquoise light follow your movements like undersea fireworks. Immersing yourself in the glimmer of a bioluminescent bloom is a unique experience and one that most people only experience through Instagram photos. You can safely immerse yourself in the water, but most prefer to float for a better perspective.
The dazzling light show of bioluminescence is created by single-celled marine algae called phytoplankton. It’s believed to be a defense mechanism. The light startles or brings unwanted attention to predators, scaring them off. It’s like shining a flashlight on someone right before they steal your Nikes. Single-celled organisms adapting so beautifully to their harsh environment is breathtaking.
MOST SURPRISING FACT: Sometimes the bioluminescent blooms are so radiant, NASA can see them from space. As time goes on, they’ll be able to see more blooms. Algal blooms happen when the water warms. With the changing climate, there’s been a steady increase in water temperatures. Research shows algal blooms will continue to climb 20 percent over the next century.
HOW TO TRY IT: Dark summer nights are the best times to see the glowing phytoplankton. You can hop in your own kayak and hope to see something. But you’ll fare better with the expertise of guide who knows the water, the moon phases, and the marine critters. Hood Canal Adventures, in the Hood Canal, offers special tours on optimal viewing nights. Make reservations at least a week in advance, as this is a popular trip. The company’s owner, Christina, is a former marine biologist so you’re in good hands.
If you’re ready to jump into a kayak and explore Hood Canal at night, the car-sharing company ReachNow is ready to help. They are sponsoring this series to encourage you to get in touch with nature. Check out their special summer packages.