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Tomales Bay Bioluminescence: Enchanting night paddle in the ocean's garden

A quick snap while staging our ply across Tomales Bay, our third in as many days.  This would be the last light until the ocean lit-up with bioluminescent dinoflagellate.

Darkness set in quickly, a new moon coupled with thick marine layer extended to the surface dropped visibility at dusk to just 200ft.  Tonight's group would be lead by compass.

Wind laid down nicely an hour before launch time.  The group was anxious and excited.   11 tandem kayaks plus the Kanaka Whale Boat 'beacon of light' with small red LED mounted to the bow sprit rising 4 feet above the waterline, the red-nosed reindeer set the boundary on starboard side of the flotilla.  

We plied water into darkness 220 degrees southwest toward Hog Island.  The group stuck together nicely and we counted off before adjusting the compass again to our destination.   By 9pm all sunlight had dissolved into pitch black, the dark-equivalent of midnight.  Soon the wake from our kayaks began to glow.

The Friday flotilla was a brave group.  As they sallied-forth across the channel, sporadic tracers of fluorescent light welcomed shallower water with schools of bait fish that spooked, scattered & ran from the splash of our paddle, agitating dinoflagellate-plankton and triggering the release of Luciferen inside these magical, single-cell organism.

We spent a half hour in the shadow of 30 foot cliffs along the shoreline protected from wind.  We were not alone. The flotilla was silent.  Mesmerized by fluorescent bursts of swimming guppies, shrimp and longer traces of light from midsize fish and on-up the food chain; faint outline of leopard shark stirring clouds of glowing bubbles with a milky hue along the ocean floor.

 The fog partially lifted.  I look up.  Put the compass in my pocket and relax a little more. 

We follow a path of infinite stars eventually and on this day the silhouette of Hog Island brought us to the promise land.  Many do not want to leave ... not just yet.