Have you seen the movie ‘Life of Pi’ where Richard Parker and Pi find their boat surrounded by glowing phosphorescent jellyfish? It’s a beautiful magical scene in the film with just a touch of CGI to make it happen. Last night we had the opportunity to become luminous, glowing swimming angels in real phosphorous plankton.
20 minutes north of Puerto Escondido the Minialtepec Lagoon lies between the Pacific Ocean and the stunning backdrop of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. The lagoon provides a living for local fisherman with their daily net catch of Pargo and Roballo and is home to hundreds of varieties of birds that nest in the mangroves.
Three ecosystems combine to form the lagoon; there is fresh water flowing in from Minialtepec river, sea water from the Pacific Ocean and deep brackish water in the centre of the lagoon. During rainy season the lagoon water level will rise as the river flows down from the mountains and the lagoon will spill out over the sand bank into the ocean. Likewise at periods of very high tides, new moon spring tides and storms the ocean will crash over into the lagoon all creating a rich biodiversity of shellfish, wildlife and fish in the waters.
After checking with local Puerto guru Gina Machorro that it’s a good time of the year to view the phosphorescence, along with Keith & Sue our fellow Brits living in Puerto Escondido, we took an evening tour of the laguna.
Pancha our lady boat driver took us out on the lagoon to view the birds roosting in the early evening dusky light. We spotted cormorants, herons, ibis, egrets, pelicans and ringed kingfishers. We also saw another large eyed, big blue billed beauty that we’ve yet to identify, any ornithologists out there – can you help?
Being Brits, we love a picnic so shared some delicious food, beers and God bless Sue – G&T’s on the beach. An English picnic wouldn’t be complete without a drop of rain, but we got lucky with the rain clouds almost missing us creating some wonderful blue, orange and grey skies all around us.
Back in the boat we headed to Isla de Gallo through the eerie shadows on the lagoon as the darkness fell. Pancha then took us to a spot to swim in the lagoon with the phosphorescence.
There are two lagoons in the world where there is phosphorous plankton, the Manialtepec and another lagoon in Puerto Rico. Only at certain times of the year are the conditions just right to view the bioluminescence.
When you put your hands in the water they glow, it’s as if there are sparkly sprinkles all over your fingers. The microorganisms that live in the lagoon are luminescent with the motion of moving the water around. It’s absolutely amazing. The lagoon temperature is bath like, I learnt a new Spanish word from Pancha ‘calentita’ – nice and warm.
The glow around our swimming bodies was as if stars were all over us, it was truly magical. They say the water is good for your skin so we rubbed our sun bathed wrinkles, Mr E did point out it wasn’t miracle water though!!
If was a wonderful evening and we are so happy we got to experience this incredible event with our lovely new Frome friends.