Summer and fall months provide an unparalleled bayside experience in the evening. When the sun goes down, the bioluminescence comes out! Paddle around in water that literally glows in the dark, from A1A’s exclusive waterfront park access at Banana River Park in Cape Canaveral.
SpaceCoast Living talked to Dave Lane at A1A Outdoors, a family-operated business that began, like many businesses, out of a garage. After providing beach gear to a few resorts and responding to increasing demand over time, they moved to a storefront on A1A at the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach border. In addition to providing bioluminescence kayak tours in the area, they also offer scenic tours of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Ulumay Wildlife Refuge, and Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach. But today, we wanted to talk about those famous dinoflagellates that glow in the dark!
SCL: How long have these tours been going on?
Dave: We’ve been running tours for almost ten years. We start the bioluminescent tours later in the season. Conditions have to be just right, we monitor the conditions closely so our groups really get to see the glow.
SCL: What happens if you move your hand around in the water?
Dave: First, the glow comes from dinoflagellates emitting a blue-white glow when they are disturbed. Running your hand in the water does that, the kayak paddle does that, and even a jumping mullet does that. It is quite spectacular to see, very otherworldly.
SCL: How bright do they get?
Dave: It is a very dim light, but we maximize the timing of the tours to see the glow at its best. Each group member gets a glow stick, and that’s the only light source out there besides the glowing plankton. The glow sticks are for us to see each other. We typically run groups up to a maximum size of 20-25 kayaks.
SCL: What makes conditions better for viewing?
Dave: We monitor the weather conditions and water temperature. A big storm can interrupt the glow for a few days, but we adjust the tour schedule accordingly.
SCL: What do we bring on a tour? A camera?
Dave: This is a simple experience to enjoy. Bring dry shoes and maybe a towel and extra pants just in case you get a little wet. Most people stay completely dry though. Bring a bottle of water and maybe some bug spray. We spray down before we leave, but you’ll be surprised how few bugs there are once you’re out on the water. As for a camera? Leave it at home or in your car. This is an amazing sight, but nearly impossible to photograph. Relax and enjoy the memory.
SCL: How do you describe this to someone who has never been?
Dave: If you put a very dim blue light under your kayak, you’d begin to get the effect. It is the motion of the water and the plankton that give it its magic.
This only happens in a very few places in the world. I’ve heard it can be seen in the Chesapeake Bay, but irregularly. We are gifted with this being a regular occurrence here, just another one of the great things about living in Brevard.
6811 N Atlantic Ave.
Cape Canaveral, Florida 32920
321-505-7455 | www.A1AOutdoors.com