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Bioluminescent algae - and crazy hypothesis?

spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,215 Captain
edited February 8 in General Fishing #1
I've been tempted to throw this out there for some time now..
When I was somewhere around the age of 10, I was enjoying a Christmas at my aunt and uncle's on Merrit Island.  About in the eighties.  By this time in my life, I was obsessed, and I mean obsessed with fishing.  My Dad lived on Boca Ciega Bay in St Pete and whenever I was with him, and not in school, I quite literally fished sun up till bedtime, every single day I was there.  For most of my youth.  I shared an intimate connection with that bay.
Well, that night on the other coast, near Christmas when I was about 10, on the Indian/Banana River (not sure of which), I was fishing out back, on my aunt and uncles dock.  And it was the first time in my life I witnessed bioluminesent algae.  I was throwing a net, catching fish and it was obvious.  There was a glow in the water wherever disturbed.  But bc I had never seen it before, it startled me.  I rushed inside to proclaim my discovery to all of the adults. 
No one would listen to me!  Everyone was drinking and having a merry old time and I guess they thought I was seeing things or being an imaginative kid.  So I found an empty bottle, filled it up, and took it to the bathroom.  I closed the door and turned off the light.  I shook it up and low and behold, it glowed.  I grabbed the first adult I could find and pulled them into the bathroom.  Now, I had their attention.  No one had an idea what it was.  Or if it was normal.  There was talk of whether it was radioactive or from NASA lol.
Fast forward a few decades.
Long after this incident, and well into my highschool years, I never saw that again.  Not in Tampa Bay.  Never.  I moved away for several years and I didn't fish like I used to.  When I moved back, not sure when exactly, but I began to see the same thing in Tampa.  Maybe 15 years ago, it became a norm.  Not a persistent event throughout the year, but now, not uncommon at all.  Doesn't surprise me at all when I see it now.
So a few questions:
Anyone in the Tampa Bay are remember bioluminescence over 2 decades ago?
And now here's my real concern..
Witnessing a collapse in MINWR, was this bioluminescence perhaps an indicator?  A canary in the coal mine.  And, will Tampa Bay soon suffer the same result.  I know it's anecdotal, and that is, perhaps, why I've been reluctant to suggest it.  But I was talking to a Marine Biologist friend of mine about it recently and he suggested certain dinoflaggelates and that they absolutely can be harmful.
Curious to hear opinions.


Replies

  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 10,953 AG
    we called it phosphorus and fishermen here on the west coast have used it for decades to find schools of fish at night.

    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • FishingpervertFishingpervert Deltona, FloridaPosts: 637 Officer
    edited March 27 #3
  • Crkr23Crkr23 MelrosePosts: 36 Deckhand
    It also appears in certain fungi on land and is called Foxfire. The first time I saw it was in a creek swamp in the middle of the night, scared the crap out of me.
    Foxfire and "Phosphorus in the water" was here long before any pollution.
  • Salty Dawg44Salty Dawg44 Homosassa, FLPosts: 1,134 Officer
    edited February 8 #5
    Running offshore before daylight in South Carolina I would regularly see it in the wake. Never a problem.

    MY WORST FEAR......THAT WHEN I DIE MY WIFE WILL SELL ALL MY BOATS & FISHING GEAR FOR WHAT I TOLD HER I PAID FOR IT.......

    I may not always agree with what you say,
    but I will always respect your right to be wrong!
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,215 Captain
    I know it's nothing new.  I just wonder if, like redtide, it's proliferation may be due to water quality issues. 
    Like I said, as a kid, I NEVER saw it in Tampa Bay.  And no one I knew ever saw it either.  Now, I see it frequently.
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,215 Captain
    Crkr23 said:
    It also appears in certain fungi on land and is called Foxfire. The first time I saw it was in a creek swamp in the middle of the night, scared the crap out of me.
    Foxfire and "Phosphorus in the water" was here long before any pollution.
    You see foxfire in Florida?  That's cool

  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 10,953 AG
    we fish pompano back in the 70's and 80' looking for firing water.

    BTW TB is a lot healthier now than when I was a kid
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,581 Captain
    edited February 8 #9
    BTW TB is a lot healthier now than when I was a kid

    That's a for sure.  I remember fishing the bay back in the 60s in June and the water absolutely stunk!

    There are always bioluminescent mico organisms in Tampa Bay and out in the Gulf.  We only see them light up when they bloom to levels of high abundance during the warmer months.  These blooms have always been more common on the East Coast in the Indian River area where they are a tourist attraction. 

    Microalgae abundance varies a lot from year to year because of a lot of different factors.  Pollution may be one factor but not the only one.

    http://baysoundings.com/legacy-archives/sum03/bioluminescence.html
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 14,213 AG
    edited February 8 #10
    spangler said:
      Not a persistent event throughout the year, but now, not uncommon at all.  Doesn't surprise me at all when I see it now.
    So a few questions:
    Anyone in the Tampa Bay are remember bioluminescence over 2 decades ago?
    And now here's my real concern..
    Witnessing a collapse in MINWR, was this bioluminescence perhaps an indicator?  A canary in the coal mine.  And, will Tampa Bay soon suffer the same result.  I know it's anecdotal, and that is, perhaps, why I've been reluctant to suggest it.  But I was talking to a Marine Biologist friend of mine about it recently and he suggested certain dinoflaggelates and that they absolutely can be harmful.
    Curious to hear opinions.
    Two points...

    First, bioluminescence has been in our bay for more than two decades.  I remember it clearly when I first started wade fishing at night in Safety Harbor and along the CCC in the early 90s.  My fishing partner told me it was like that since he was a kid, and he's 25 years older than I am.  Since then I've noted that it happens every year in Old Tampa Bay when the water warms, peaking in late summer/early fall, and goes away in the winter when the water cools.

    Second, the water quality of Tampa Bay has improved over the past 20 years, which calls into question your canary in a coal mine analogy.

    Bottom line: There are plenty of water quality issues to be concerned about, but I'm not sure that bioluminescence is one of them....Mike

    p.s. although they become harder to catch during blooms (your line can give away your lures and spook fish), I can say with certainty that tarpon don't mind the glowing water at all.
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,215 Captain
    edited February 8 #11
    On the one hand, I would agree that the bay has improved.  But on the other, St Pete has discharged hundreds of millions of gallons of waste water into it over the last decade.  In 2015-16 they were responsible for over 90% of the entire state's discharges that year.  Drive over the bayside bridge and you'll see they're still pumping 24/7, into the bay.
    Glad to hear some evidence that the bioluminescense has been known in the Bay before I witnessed it.  Like I said, crazy theory..  Although, I never said some of the things ya'll suggested I did.  Reading comprehension on here still irks the **** outta me.
  • tom waxelbaumtom waxelbaum Posts: 138 Deckhand
    Once we stayed on a floating house on logs on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I would get up in the wee hours to wee. When I first peed off the side the "fireworks" I saw made me think that I wasn't awake. Too bad my little girls couldn't make their own light show. I'm still unsure if they believed me.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 10,953 AG
    spangler said:
    On the one hand, I would agree that the bay has improved.  But on the other, St Pete has discharged hundreds of millions of gallons of waste water into it over the last decade.  In 2015-16 they were responsible for over 90% of the entire state's discharges that year.  Drive over the bayside bridge and you'll see they're still pumping 24/7, into the bay.
    Glad to hear some evidence that the bioluminescense has been known in the Bay before I witnessed it.  Like I said, crazy theory..  Although, I never said some of the things ya'll suggested I did.  Reading comprehension on here still irks the **** outta me.
    hey, grandstanding with no clue and just for attention irks the fire out of me also..
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,215 Captain
    edited February 9 #14
    grandstanding?  hell r u talking about?  You're one sad old man. 
  • AlwaysLearningMoreAlwaysLearningMore Posts: 133 Deckhand
    I can't speak to Tampa Bay, but I can attest to lots of phosphorescence, fire in the water, in Charlotte Harbor for at least the last 40 years.  Cool to run the flats on a dark night and see the trails of fire made by mullet and other fish running away and ahead of the boat.  Some of it from suspended algae, some from comb jellyfish which glow when jostled.  The night time snook fishermen always said their fishing suffered when there was lots of fire in the water.  The thought was that lines and leaders lighting the water up ahead of a lure turned the fish off.
  • mplspugmplspug Palmetto FloridaPosts: 10,267 AG
    Bit off topic, but when we were in the keys there were these bioluminescent "worms" swimming around by the seawall.  It was pretty cool to watch.  They'd shoot a little cloud of bioluminescence when they'd touch.  I think we can guess what that was.

    Captain Todd Approves

  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,630 Captain
    I did a lot of night fishing years ago down here in south Florida years ago -and still run night charters today in Biscayne Bay.  My last night charter was Friday night (we jumped three small tarpon in dock lights).  I never see “fire in the water” in winter but it’s very common in summer.  Matter of fact I always try to avoid full moon nights in summer since I think the way it lights up our lines and gear is a very real disadvantage... 

    I’ve always thought that it was a natural phenomenon.
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • L8RBRAL8RBRA St. LouisPosts: 304 Deckhand
    mplspug said:
    Bit off topic, but when we were in the keys there were these bioluminescent "worms" swimming around by the seawall.  It was pretty cool to watch.  They'd shoot a little cloud of bioluminescence when they'd touch.  I think we can guess what that was.
    Yep, They'd do a little swirl and then poof gone. Pretty cool to see.
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