Seasonal observations of an ever changing coastal landscape 
by Bold Bluff host Tamar Griggs 

Bioluminescence - Ben's Birthday Gift

Date: 8/30/03
Time: 9:19:35 PM
Remote Name:


On August 25th, our Cottage guest, Ben, turned 7 and for a Birthday treat I took him, with his Mom, out in the classic wooden rowboat in the dark, moonless night to see the bioluminescence. He sat snuggly in the bow, his Mom sat in the stern, and I sat in the middle, rowing long, sleek oars. All three of us were bundled up in life jackets. Our Love-Bug Tipi guests, celebrating their first wedding anniversary, joined us in their double kayak. None of our guests had ever seen the stunning display of living fire in the black night ocean. The Tipi guests paddled fast in the cove, a streak of ghostlike blue fire blazing before our eyes and vanishing. WOW! We slapped our oars on the water and fire-clouds of little fish burst away. We then gathered courage to venture out beyond the safety of the cove into the wide deep Sansum Narrows where the steep rocks plunge straight into the sea. It is scarier here because the tide can be swift, and you never know WHAT might be lurking in the deep! We gazed down, down at thousands of little fish darting after fast moving sea worms and plankton, with some huge dogfish chasing them in swirls of luminescent light. One dogfish cruised on the surface, its shark-like back exposed to the air. We screamed in delight and banged our oars and paddles on the ocean, hoping to sea a seal or a river otter swim by! Dogfish are a sign of a healthy eco-system. In Puget Sound there are virtually none left - an alarming situation. So we must bless these dogfish who come up to the surface to feed at night in the late summer and early fall. Twice within the last 10 years I have witnessed over 300 dogfish feeding at night in our cove - both times in September. Their eyes glow an eerie green when you shine a flashlight upon them. You have to be out at night to see them! Usually I am snug in bed. This night, Ben's Birthday, after feasting on the awesome fireworks, after tying up the rowboat and pulling the kayak up on the dock, we slowly walked down the long boardwalk, throwing fir cones into the black sea and watching expanding swirls of blue fire-light star burst and vanish to our exclamations of "OOOOH! AHHH!" feeling very much like Pooh's friend, Roo jumping up and down in the sheer enthusiasm of being alive on our wondrous planet.

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