Posted by: Bart Welling | September 5, 2011

Sanita Rekic’s First Post

Last year I took a trip to Puerto Rico with some friends of mine and had an experience of a lifetime. Puerto Rico is a unique place that shows the relationship between the ecosystem and the organisms that depend on it to survive. One night we went kayaking in Vieques Mosquito Bay, which was a bioluminescent bay, and were able to witness the Pyrodinium Bahamense Dinoflagellates, also knows as dinos. These dinos come into contact with other organisms and produce a bright burst of blue light. We were able to see these dinos only when we put our hands in the water, which created a magical memory.

The bioluminescent bay is created by a lagoon surrounded by Red Mangorves. Red Mangroves release tannins that are rich in Vitamin B, which is an important nutrient for the light emitting dinos. The Bay must be free of pollution, which requires protected lands surrounding the bay and special zoning that holds back the sediment whenever there is a lot of rain. Any pollution flowing into the bay can completely ruin a biobay. The Bay must be large so that the water can stay cool in the daytime, but warmer than the ocean outside. The Bay must also have a channel to the ocean which will restrict the outflow of dinos to the sea as the tide goes out. Any alterations are not to be made on the channel because it can destroy the biobay as well.

It is best to see the dinos at night time because any light seen from the bay or light reflected from clouds can greatly reduce the visibility of the dinos at night. It is also best to see the dinos when there is no moon visible in the sky. We gathered up with a group of people around sunset before heading out to the Bay. We kayaked in a line for about half an hour in the dark not able to see the trees and wildlife surrounding us. I remember being scared of the water and thinking something could harm me at the moment and not realizing I could be the one harming animals in the water. We were told that we would not harm anything on our way to the opening of the bay where we settled to see the dinos. It was definitely magical to experience the dinos because we do not realize what types of organisms live in the water and what they are capable of doing, like producing the bright bursts of light.

There are several simple contributions people can make to preserve the Bay so that the next couple of generations are able to witness the dinos as well. We were told to wear natural insect repellents that do not contain harmful chemicals because there are many chemicals that are harmful and will kill thousands of dinos. We should also refrain from throwing trash in the water because it can kill thousands of dinos instantly. Some people do not realize the importance of keeping our waters clean. One piece of trash will not only kill one organism, but thousands of them. We are capable of saving precious organisms that make oceans so beautiful. Also, any boats overnighting in the bay could add fluorocarbons and sewage containing human bacteria that harm the dinos, therefore the legislature in Puerto Rico is looking into the protection needed for the biobays. Any changes in the ecosystem can diminish the healthy balance of the bays, so it is important to conserve, preserve and protect the coastal and maine ecosystems.

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