Every so often you come across a photo, stare and then boldly exclaim, "I will photograph that someday!" For instance my photography bucket list has on it shooting the Holi Festival in India, Pingxi Lanterns in Taiwan, La Tomatina in Spain and just recently I added light painting with the spectacular Bioluminescent plankton that emit a bright glowing blue color in the ocean water.
The phenomena of these little glowing "beasts" has been studied for years but only recently scientists are beginning to understand what is happening and even more important how it might be able to be used for cell biology and help cure cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. From Puerto Rico to the Maldives, hotels are also promoting recently discovered Bioluminescent Bay's close to their property in hopes that it will attract tourists. It's working. Photographers are flocking to the bays in hopes of capturing spectacular images that look like they came out of a scene from Avatar. Those who have visited describe it as a lake full of Tinkerbell's fairy dust that lights up whenever it's touched.
"There are no hiding places in the open ocean, so a lot of animals have evolved this trick of hiding in the dark depths during the day and coming up to eat at the surface water under the cover of darkness," said Edith Widder, a marine biologist at the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Florida. "This means they spend most of their lives in near darkness," she said. "And bioluminescence is very useful in that kind of environment"—be it for finding food and mates, thwarting predators, or simply lighting the way.
Check out this TED talk video to see and hear more from bioluminscence expert Edith Widder as she brings some of her glowing friends onstage.
Have you had the opportunity to see and capture photos of bioluminscence? If so, post a link to your photos in the comments.