Does This Water Look Bioluminescent? (Day 236)

The OWS google groups continue to be awash in red tide discussions; some have opted to steer clear of the bay for now, others have experienced itchy skin or irritated eyes, and others (like myself) haven’t had any noticeable effects at all. I continue to swim through the sepia-toned water of the bay (one person described it as swimming through a bowl of miso soup) each day and I feel fine. Aside from folks weighing in about their personal experiences in the water, some have offered insights and links to articles about the situation. But the most fascinating topic, which popped up yesterday, is the possibility that this alga is bioluminescent! So, Angie, Sheila, and I trekked down to the Albany Bulb at sunset to see for ourselves.

It was wild, windy, and cold when we arrived and we felt like we were a little crazy to be stripping off our clothes and climbing into that water. But once we were actually doing it, it felt warmish. At first, we thought it was glowing (well, Sheila and I did; Angie thought we were hallucinating), but I guess it was just the last of the light illuminating the water because as the sky grew darker there were no hints of bioluminescence.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful swim. Being out in the bay at night feels otherworldly; the familiar landmarks transformed; mystery and possibility all around. 

2 thoughts on “Does This Water Look Bioluminescent? (Day 236)

  1. Where I swim, in a small harbor in Puget Sound, we see bioluminescence only when it is completely dark. We wait for a night with no moon and then wait until the sky is fully dark – darker than in your pictures. When conditions are right here it’s like swimming in fairy dust, but people on shore might not see it at all.


  2. You are one brave girl! I’ve thought it many times but felt compelled to let you know this today. It’s not because of any one thing in particular but I do think this swimming of yours is bad ass! At first it was the temperature or having to put yourself out there and swim with strangers in a strange place. Then it was the shark or even the seals given how you feel about them. But now, it’s algae, red tide warnings and possible bioluminescence and you’re doing at night! What scares me the most are those monster ships. You seems so small and yet kick ass brave. ❤️


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