Bioluminescence probably produced by Lingulodinium polyedrum, a species of the genus Dinoflagellate, in the waters around Toco, 2004. These unicellular organisms rise to the surface at night to breed (blooming). They glow when they are disturbed, in this case because of the wave action on the rocks. The luminescence on this particular night was very dim, just visible to the naked eye. It seems brighter in the photograph due to the cumulative light-gathering nature of film during a long exposure, in this case, of over an hour. 4x5 large format camera, Kodak Ektachrome film.

It is times like these that make me question the value of this website. The picture above has been online since 2005. It has been used, with permission, by research students and departments from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, University of Minnesota, University of New Brunswick and others. When bioluminescence was noticed in the Ortiore river in Trinidad this month no one had a clue what it was (a type of phytoplankton). Bioluminescence has been an ongoing phenomena around Trinidad's coastal waters for many years. Now you know.

Many of these glowing dinoflagellate species produce potent neurotoxins, the most notable one being saxitoxin, which cause shellfish poisoning when consumed by humans. To the people jumping into the water or pelting objects into the water to disturb the creatures: this is nature at its best; look-on in wonder and in awe, but do not touch if at all possible.

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