If you’d like to experience a quite unusual adventure right here in the Brevard County area, take a short drive to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and go on a bioluminescent kayaking tour with A Day Away Kayak Tours. I had heard about the bioluminescent phenomenon from other people who had gone on these tours and from my wife who had been wanting to go, but I was not at all expecting to see what we saw. It was a lot more cool that I had imagined.
Bioluminescence is the technical name for what you see when you see fireflies light up at night and there are many creatures capable of producing this effect. Some of those creatures are microscopic organisms that live in the waters of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and when you paddle through these waters in certain locations the water lights up with an eerie green glow. I was expecting to see a few little glimmers of this effect but, was completely stunned by what I saw. It was like something out of a fantasy type Lord Of The Rings movie.
We paddled around at the beginning of the tour when it was still a little light and looked for manatees and as it started to get darker our guide took us through a narrow tree and shrub lined area and we didn’t start to see anything yet and I was thinking this wasn’t going to be any big deal. We then paddled to a more open cove and as we were approaching the cove in the open water, the bioluminescent effect started happening all of a sudden and it was pretty freaky at first.
When you move your paddles through the water the water actually lights up and you can also see the effect happen as the kayaks around you cut through the water. Also, when you disturb mullet and other fish in shallow areas, you can see the water light up as they swim through it. One thing I learned about disturbing mullet at night when they are sleeping, they jump, hundreds of them, and some end up in your kayak. If you’ve ever seen mullet jump and though, ‘oh, look at the fish,’ it’s a totally different experience when you kayak over top of them at night. It literally starts raining mullet. We ended up with 2 mullet jumping into our boat and it was quite startling to my wife. I was also hit by 3 or 4 mullet in the shoulder, back and head. When I say they jump, I mean, they jump.
There is only a short window of opportunity to see this phenomenon each year in the Mosquito Lagoon area. The tours run in July, August, September and October and the best time to go is either 5 days before or 5 days after a new moon, so you have the least amount of light in the sky. The darker it is, the better you will experience the full effect.
You can bring a camera to take pictures of the launch area and your friends if you bring someone along, but don’t expect to photograph the bioluminescent effect because it is nearly impossible to do so. Because of the lighting conditions and the short time the effect lasts as you move through the water, only a very few pictures of this phenomenon exist in the entire world. Even if you could get a picture of the effect, nothing beats seeing it in real life on the kayak tour.
The tour lasts for between 2 to 2.5 hours and costs $32 for an adult. This is really one of the more amazing natural phenomenon you don’t want to miss if you live in Florida or if you are vacationing here. Believe me, you will definitely be telling your friends about this adventure.