Monday 8 February 2010
On Friday night our family stayed with my parents on a boat up at Mahurangi, in Lagoon Bay. Easterlies had been blowing steadily for a few weeks and probably pushed a lot of plankton inshore, which helps explain what we saw that night.
About 10pm, after most of the crew had gone to bed and it was very dark, I noticed unusual flashes of light in the water. It was obviously bioluminescence caused by plankton, but far more intense than I've ever seen before. Even in still water, there were tiny points of light winking like flickering stars. Anywhere water was disturbed, it glowed brightly. Fish jumped, and the ripples formed bright, expanding halos. You could see moving, oscillating, sinuous lights underwater that I presume were fish swimming. I hopped in the dinghy with my wife and rowed around. The splashes of the oars created amazing flashes and patterns of light, and the dingy left a glowing wake. My wife dipped her hand in the water and it came out luminous.
It was an utterly remarkable experience --- like the bioluminescent forests of Avatar, but with the considerable advantage of being real. (Sorry, no photo --- the lights were only bright relative to the darkness of the night, and I lacked the technology and skill to capture them.)