Meet Pyrodinium Bahamense, our Puerto Rican bioluminescent organism.

Meet Pyrodinium Bahamense, our Puerto Rican bioluminescent organism.

Image: google earth

Laguna Grande Bio-Bay at Fajardo, Puerto Rico -Image: google earth

Have you ever visited Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo? If you have, you must have seen the most beautiful night landscape ever created by nature. If not, bad news: Unfortunately our bay is being watched by Scientists and Biologists trying to understand the reason why it weakened its natural glow for days. Our microscopic species haven’t been glowing as usual for a while and they have everyone worried. That’s why today, it’s my duty to present to you, our main character: Pyrodinium Bahamense, a Dinoflagellate specie.

Model of Pyrodinium bahamense, a dinoflagellate species, in the American Museum of Natural History Credit: Life’s Little Mysteries. Posted on 2eyeswatching.com

Model of Pyrodinium bahamense, a dinoflagellate species, in the American Museum of Natural History
Credit: Life’s Little Mysteries. Posted on 2eyeswatching.com

A curious microscopic, one-celled organism with the capacity of glowing in the dark when photosynthesized with plankton. In a previous post, I included this glowing capacity of other species in order to understand a way to design new glow in the dark materials according to nature’s design, along with the definition of Bioluminescence. Today this dinoflagellate will help expose its glowing capability after a brief investigation and help us understand how does the perfect environment needs to be for them to glow so fancy.

The Bio-bay:
Natural environment must have these characteristics for the organisms to glow happily:
• Pollution free.
• Protected with land (something like a lagoon with connection to the ocean.)
• Special zoning  (reserve).
• Forrest cover to keep sediment in when there is too much rain (which tends to reduce glowing).
• Water exchange through ocean channels.

What destroys the Bio-bay?
• Alterations to channel size (deep, shallow, or wide).
• Pollution, of course.
• Flood waters.
• Fluorocarbons from motorboats, even if docked and turned off. (This one is really bad).
People previously sprayed with insect repellents and swimming with our little organisms. (For crying out loud!!!! Please don’t!)
• 
Any nearby lights that can be seen from the bay or lagoon, even ambient lights from the sky.
• Water run-off and sediments from projects in development.

This next diagram shows how the glowing happens when swimmers play with the glowing organisms:

NSF image posted at random.mytko.org

NSF image posted at random.mytko.org

So this is basically and briefly how the Bio-bay works. Most of these harmful factors are taken care by guides at the reserve, but what happened at Fajardo’s Bay that it darkened if these measures were very taken in account? Explorers have stated that Mosquito Bay at Vieques (Another sister island of Puerto Rico), currently has the brightest Bio-bay in the world, because of it’s perfectly balanced system. What is happening at Fajardo that is causing it to fail for the second time as reported? It’s in the nature of the bay, if there is an imbalance, that the organisms can die and months later reproduce like crazy and create a night lantern. There is a construction ongoing (a water pump station) and probably affecting the bay’s balance adding contaminants in unnecessary sediments, which they state is not. Let’s keep up with the news.

Enjoy this little video provided by NATGEO, and experience the beauty of nature surrounded by our microscopic Dinoflagellate, even though they were looking for a giant squid, images are exquisite.

Also check out this other vid, explaining Bioluminescent waves in San Diego.

References:
Celebrating Randomness. Bioluminescent Dinoflagellates (or awsome glowing water!) August 2012. Blog. November 21, 2013. http://random.mytko.org/2012/08/bioluminescent-dinoflagellates-or.html.
Golden Heron, The Bioluminescent Bay or ‘Biobay’ in Vieques , November 2013. Puerto Rico, Nov. 21, 2013. http://www.golden-heron.com/biobay.html.
Microbe Wiki. Pyrodinium Bahamense. August 2010. David Berdan. Nov. 21, 2013. http://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Pyrodinium_bahamense
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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.