Ok, this next story right here? I’ve been waiting to tell it, saving it up for a day when I can get proper photos of the subject material. However, for reasons that will soon become obvious, I doubt that day will ever come. My cameras are too weak, the conditions too wet, the weather too dangerous, and my sensibilities too cheap to buy a better camera. So I’m just going to tell it anyway, and all accompanying photos will be of animals giving me judgmental looks. Which is a thing that happens more than you might expect.
Once a month, close as I can get to the New Moon, I try to organize a nighttime trip to the beach. There’s a particular place that less crowded in evenings, with a nice long flat sandy stretch and few rip tides or hungry crocodiles. Conditions are extra-perfect if there’s a little cloud cover, just enough to hide the stars but not heavy enough to induce thunderstorms. The idea is to minimize light, because I’m looking for something that is best seen in the dark.
It can take a little coaxing, but once I convince people to join me on a completely deserted, utterly lightless shore, and then some further coaxing to go out just past the breakers, push just beyond the shallows, and ignore my previous comment about crocodiles, the water is sparkling.
Literally. The water is full of little tiny blue lights that twinkle and swirl about wherever they’re disturbed. Paddle your arms and your create a glowing vortex. Kick your legs and you can see your feet outlined in electric blue from the surface. Swim and you’re suddenly engulfed in a blue aura. It’s unreal, magical, and just totally fucking cool.
The explanation behind it is plankton. Bioluminescent dinoflagellates, if that helps. They’re a kind of symbiotic protist that produce luciferin when disturbed and you know what? I don’t really know more than that. Nor do I care. Leave that for the marine biologists. Normally, I’m fascinated by this kind of thing and wacky phenomena usually jumpstart my scientific investigation reflex, but on nights like these I’m too busy being a goddamn wizard.
Once a month I bodysurf waves and throw freaking blue underwater fireballs. I swing my arms and command legions of fireflies. Summon sparks from the tips of my fingers. From darkness, I create light. I am a god. Photos can’t do it justice, so for reference you’re better off Youtubing clips from Avatar or 90’s anime. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
The last time I did this, we had an approaching thunderstorm. Normally, this is good cause to stay off an open beach and out of saltwater, but I reasoned that the lightning was a good distance off and we were safe. Also I was not about to let some weather ruin my monthly aquatic magic rampage. Also I had had a few drinks, but Costa Rican beer rate somewhere between “gargling mouthwash” and “holding your breath” in things that will actually get you drunk. So I led the charge of nervous interns into the waves.
Sure enough, Poseidon did not disappoint. The waves were no more than swells, but we were immediately surrounded in our own glistening cloud. But things were even better. Lightning would flash in the distance every couple of seconds, illuminating the horizon in orange and lavender. Then came the thunder. Sparkle sparkle BOOM! Sparkle sparkle BOOM! Oh my god I’ve never felt so alive.
This is where magic comes from. This is where religions are born. Science, you want to explain this with microbio and algae? Go ahead. Once a month I abandon most rational thought and swim in an ocean of light. Being a goddamn wizard.