Living organisms produce and emit light due to biochemical reactions, so this phenomenon is called ‘Bioluminescence’. Certain chemicals, when blend together produces energy that excites the vibrations of other particles, which generates light causing the glow. The purpose of bioluminescence is to evade or warn predators, to attract prey and to communicate between the same species.
Grand Cayman has a vast concentration of bioluminescent phytoplankton in its Bio Bay. Phytoplankton is tiny microscopic plants, which float on the water. Due to activities on the water, these get disturbed and they shoot a burst of illumination that lasts for some seconds. Its purpose is to attract large predators to the thing trying to consume or disturb the plankton. Predators are also surprised at the illumination making it leave the plankton alone.
To flourish these little critters, need specific environmental conditions. In the early 2000s, Grand Cayman did not have a Bio Bay but in 2004 it appeared after the place was hit by Hurricane Ivan.
When can you book a tour to experience bioluminescence?
Cayman Bio boat tours are planned a week before and after New Moon. The moonlight washes the plankton’s glow, so the operators cannot guarantee their guest a luminous experience, so it is scheduled at a specific time of moon cycle.
Never let your hopes down, if you visit Grand Cayman at the wrong time of the moon cycle. Boat tour operators cannot guarantee the bright experience. The bioluminescent plankton is always there even if the moon is visible. You can choose to go snorkeling and enjoy the bioluminescence. If you are fortunate, the moon may be invisible because of the clouds and you can experience the bright Bio Bay.
How to experience Bio Bay illumination?
Bioluminescence is there all the time. Choose one of the ways to experience Bio Bay in Grand Cayman.
Inflatable kayak rentals
- The most exhilarating and cheap way to explore bioluminescence is to rent inflatable kayaks. They are sturdy and lightweight. You can get inside the water wearing a snorkel and mask to witness the sparks that jump from every plankton’s body. People physically fit to paddle to the Bio Bay and get back easily need to choose to go alone. Otherwise, they can choose kayak tours. Some safety precautions you need to follow while kayaking.
- It is mandatory to use life jackets while kayaking at night.
- Never disturb sea bed as there are jellyfish that rest and can create mild itch on your skin.
- Respect other boats. Stay away from the center and stay close to the edge of the channel.
- Red & green lights will be noticed on the buoys.
Kayak guided tour
If you desire to stay dry opt for Bio Bay Kayak tour package. The guides are well trained and know a lot about the marine life at Cayman. You can ask questions and learn a lot about the amazing ecosystem of Cayman Island.
Private boat tour
A private boat tour has a licensed captain and well-educated crew. There are rest-room on-board and snacks. Snorkel, fins, and masks are supplied. You can even get bait & tackle needed for reef fishing. When you are provided with safety information pay attention.