About Bioluminescent Dinoflagellate Plankton

When it comes to bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton, ninety percent are all marine plankton. There are also quite a few freshwater species, some of these have actually been found growing in snow. Some are photosynthetic and others are non-photosynthetic, about half of these species fall into each of those categories. Second only to diatoms and the main producers found in coastal waters are the photosynthetic bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton.

The main source of flow-agitated bioluminescence in coastal regions is the bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton. These organisms are single celled and common members of the plankton which are tiny marine bacteria, plants or animals which float near or on the surface of the ocean. Ranging in size from around thirty µm to one mm, bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton is found in all the oceans of the world.

Bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton can occasionally be found in high concentrations, this result in red tides, and they have been named this due the high amounts of bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton which discolor the water. Being as the bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton is luminescent, at night they put on amazing and spectacular displays of bioluminescence.

It is usually very hard to actually predict red tides and when they do occur, they generally do not last very long. However there are areas such as the reputed bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico where throughout the entire year, the brilliant bioluminescence persists and makes for an amazing experience for those have personally been able to visit, as you enjoy some kayaking or swimming through the warm waters, you will experience something that you will never forget. You can experience the Grand Cayman bioluminescence tour with many companies to see the dinoflagellates in the bio bay.

Insight has been provided due to laboratory experiments on the role that bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton pain in marine ecology A startle response is caused to the predators of bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton due to their flashes, this disrupts their feeding behavior and results in a decrease of the grazing rate, this causes a reduction in the amount of bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton that are consumed.

It is also believed that the bioluminescence of the bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton acts as a burglar alarm; this attracts a secondary predator who will threaten to eat the main predator. When bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton is handled by a predator, the dinoflagellate cells are triggered by the imparted mechanical stress and cause a flash.

However any mechanical stress of a magnitude large enough, for example the syringe and forces of a wave or that caused by swimming animals or humans, is also a way in which the luminescence of the bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton can be triggered.

The complex cellular regulation of the bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton luminescence is one which is only partially understood, however ultimately the luminescent chemistry is caused by a drop in their pH, this is because of a sudden influx in the protons found within the cell. It takes under twenty mms from the time of stimulus to the emission of light, thus makes the cellular process one of the fastest that has yet been discovered.

Every dinoflagellate cell is able to produce more than one single flash, this flash then lasts around one hundred ms. However the cell´s bioluminescence capacity is depleted once all of the luciferin it has available has been oxidized. However throughout the next day it is able to recharge its chemicals and the following night, it can flash once more.

The ways in which more bioluminescent dinoflagellate plankton is produced is through asexual division. In this process the organism is split, it then produces two copies which are identical. The theca is shed and then, in each of the daughters it is regrown, or it could be divided and each daughter receives a half and a half that is regrowing. There are a few genera which grow as filaments. These are formed when after dividing, the cells do not separate.

Fascinating Marine Life – Southern Stingrays

Stingrays may have gotten a bad reputation after the unfortunate death of Steve Irwin – one of Australia’s (television’s) most beloved naturalists who was killed in an accident when a stingray barb pierced his chest. However, this was a freak occurrence and very few people are injured by Stingray’s each year.

If Stingrays are stepped on they will use the barb in self defense. However the venom is not lethal – however those who have been stabbed report that the experience can be incredibly painful.

Stingrays are found in seas and oceans across the globe – however one of the most widespread species are the Southern Stingrays.

These animals are found in the warm waters of the western Atlantic ocean and have a geographic distribution that stretches from northeastern United States all the way to southern Brazil.

Much like most other ray species the Southern Stingrays are characterized by a diamond shaped body with their mouth found on the underside of the body. There are many southern rays found at Stingray City Cayman Islands The coloration of the Southern Stingray is olive green or a dull grey / brown on the upper surface while the underside is a unblemished white.

Mature female rays can reach up to 150cm in width, while the males are significantly smaller.

As their name would indicate the barb on the tail is what gives the Stingray its name. However, it is not a sting in the proper sense of the word. Rather it’s a barb which is covered in venomous mucous. This barb is only used to defend the animal from threats and is not used in hunting or any other offensive activity.

The Southern Stingrays are active night hunters. They blow a stream of water from their mouths or use vigorous flapping motion from the their fins in order to expose their prey by blowing aside sand. Prey includes small fishes, bottom dwelling worms as well as a wide variety of crustacean species. They can cover vast distances in their search fro prey due to the energy efficient nature of their swimming motion which involves a wave like flexing of their fins.

Like most other rays the Southern Stingray usually spends most of its time partially buried in the sand with only its eyes showing. The location of the ‘spiracles’ on the top of the body near the eyes allows the rays to breath while buried in the sand.

In fact Southern Stingrays are so inoffensive that divers and snorkelers are often offered the opportunity to interact with the species in places like Grand Cayman and Antigua. Tour operators offer tourists the opportunity to hand feed the Stingrays and allow those on day trips to enter the water to interact with the rays.

These day trips are tremendously popular and the Stingrays have become so accustomed to human interaction that they can now be hand fed in complete safety. Visitors now compare the Stingrays to household pets – and in fact the rays are now so docile that they seem to enjoy belly rubs and actively seek out the attention of visitors.

The Southern Stingray is one of the most fascinating creatures to be found off both the North American, South American and the Western Atlantic. The symbiotic relationship that they have formed with human beings in places like Grand Cayman and other tourist destinations make them firm favorites with visitors from all over the globe.

Although there have been questions regarding the impact of human beings on the natural behavior of the rays there can be no doubt that they are firm favorites with tourists who flock to island destinations in the hope of a never to be forgotten interaction with these play-full animals.

My Stingray City and Bioluminescent Bay Experience

It was that time of year, I was trying to decide where I wanted to go on vacations, and I wanted something different this time around. I usually know exactly where I want to go or at least have a few different options, however, this year was different, and I was not sure exactly where I wanted to visit so I started looking into various interesting vacation spots.

I found a few places that would have liked to visit, however, one place stood out from the rest and really caught my attention and that was a trip to Stingray City and Bioluminescent Bay Cayman Islands. I had never traveled anywhere that offered an attraction like this. I saw that there was even an option for a night kayak trip on this bay and after looking over my vacation options, I decided that this was not something I could pass up so I was traveling to the Cayman Islands.

During my Stingray City and Bioluminescent Bay experience I was able to enjoy a half a half day adventure in which I was whisked away on a customized speedboat and taken to visit the world-famous Stingray City Grand Cayman, here I was able to swim with and hand feed the stingrays as well as enjoy the sight of hundreds of bright fish as I snorkeled around the vibrant barrier reef. Other interesting experiences include hiking on the bluff in Cayman Brac and paddle boarding.

The Barrier Reef was the second stop and here I enjoyed more snorkeling that allowed me to admire the vast marine life of the area. It was great to see that those who did not have experience with snorkeling or who did not feel confident swimming were offered life jackets and we were all briefed by the guides on snorkeling. There was also the option of staying on board and enjoying some relaxing and complimentary drinks which were refreshing.

Our third destination was Starfish Point which is a stretch of isolated beach found on the north side of Grand Cayman. Here I observed the dozens of starfish and was even able to hold them and photograph them. Not only was it a beautiful experience, it was so unique and I unlike anything I had ever done before.

We moved on to the fourth stop which was at s secluded beach called Rum Point, I soon found out it was the home of some of the best drinks the Grand Cayman have to offer. I was able to explore the local area, snap lots of pictures and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Rum Point restaurant. There were a quaint beach bar, a souvenir shop, and bathroom facilities so I was set.

The last stop was at the mangrove forest where our guides explained the vital role the ecosystem plays in protecting the coastline of the Caymans as well as how the local fish populations are impacted by the mangroves. I was very lucky to see the immense variety of birds that live in the mangroves, I saw herons and egrets and even a rare Cayman parrot.

It was so much fun; the tour was not overly packed so I did not have to deal with crowds and was able to have a great time. The guides and personnel were all professional and friendly guaranteeing that I will definitely be going back for another Stingray City and Bioluminescent Bay experience.