This summer we held a family reunion at Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (Rocky Point, for non-Spanish speakers). The night before we left, we decided to take one last dip in the ocean. The night was dark, with hardly any moon, and the sky overhead looked like broken crystal. We waded in, using our phones for light (I know, a risky move).
To our surprise, the water flared with a light of its own, following our movements. Bioluminescence. I’d seen it before in Jamaica, but didn’t expect to find it here.
Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that produces light. Some fish use this ability to lure in their dinner. You’ve seen that on Finding Nemo. Others, like strobe jellyfish, use it as a warning. Bioluminescence can confuse predators or help fish blend with their surroundings.
A funky glow like the one we saw near the shore is usually caused by microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates, a type of plankton. Their glow brightens when something disturbs the water (probably to spook predators).
We tried to snap pics, but apparently phone cameras aren’t quite up to capturing a bioluminescent glow. My underwater knock-off GoPro couldn’t hack it either. Regardless, the experience was spectacular.
My husband was with me along with several of our children (I know you’re wondering how many we have. It’s a kajillion. Plus or minus 7). Several cousins and aunts and uncles shared the experience with us. We were left with a sense of wonder, a sense that we’d witnessed something spectacular and unique and shared it with people we love.
This is why I love going out in the wild. Whether it’s at an oceanside resort, the city, or my own wilderness of a backyard. There’s life to live. There’s things to see. There’s awesome people to share it with, if we take the time to build those relationships and do it.
This morning I asked my ten-year-old if he wanted to go to the gym with me. His response: Is the pool open? When I told him yes, the pool was open, he decided it was worth his while to hit the gym with Mom.
So this afternoon, we’ll take our own trip to the sea. It may not be the ocean, or even the lake, but hey, you take what you can get. At the gym, the sea is square, safe, and small. Quiet and contained (well, until Drake gets going, then it’s loud and splashy). We’ll swim back and forth. We’ll play and we’ll laugh. And we’ll leave feeling refreshed and just a bit closer to each other and who we really are.
What are some ways you build memories with your family?
R. H. Roberts explores family and memories in her underwater fantasy novel, The Spark Mage.