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One of our boat blogging friends, Cindy, whose great photos and stories can be found on her site Zach Aboard, made the comment on Facebook not too long ago that only a boat kid could be heard saying something like “Mommy, there’s a fish in the toilet.” No, parents of children growing up on land are definitely not likely to hear that coming out of their kids’ mouths, or at least I hope not. And unless they live nearby a leaking nuclear power station, they’d also be unlikely to hear their child state that the toilet water is glowing. If they were living on a boat at anchor down here though, they might be just as likely to hear that latter statement as they are the fish one.

I have read that the glowing water in our toilet, or perhaps more accurately, sparkling water, is caused by tiny marine plankton called dinoflagellates which emit a heatless light. Having now and at times previous to this witnessed this cool effect, I now regret that when we were in Vieques in the Spanish Virgins we did not visit Mosquito Bay on the island’s southern coast. Although that location’s name is not all that appealing, the bay is apparently teaming with these organisms making for a spectacular show for nighttime visitors. Perhaps we should go back? It would have to be a step up from the light show in our toilet!

Yeah, better than the show in our toilet.

Note: If we didn’t install a strainer inline with our toilet’s sea water intake, we would have been able to make that comment about having a (small) fish in our toilet too. Unfortunately for the fish, the strainer was an impasse he just couldn’t breach.


  1. Hey my kids saw fish in toilets…the dead ones….Bye “Goldie”.

  2. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is a must see.

  3. We have seen the dinoflagellates while sailing in the the Chesapeake bay. Not quite as spectacular as in the clear water of the Caribbean but still cool.

  4. I’ve been to Mosquito Bay and it is an unforgettable experience. The thing about it is that it supposedly has the highest level concentrated bioluminenscence in the world. We stayed at a sweet little inn that had an “honor bar”, so we were slightly happy before arriving there, and man that may have enhanced the experience for us too 🙂 I can’t wait to take the kids there one day. Oh, and maybe it was the drinks but I don’t recall the mosquitoes being bad at all.

  5. On our boat we call that “fairy pee” 🙂

  6. We even get it sometimes in cold UK. Not on that scale of course. If you don’t have holding tanks and can just pump in and out, then it can (and did) keep children enthralled for ages.


  7. Wow…you changed your photo on the top right of your page!! Sure enjoy your posts!

  8. I just experienced the glowing toilet the other night! Now I can say we’ve had fairy pee.

  9. We have it here on Hilton head island twice a year. Last nite the head was sparkling. Lol you don’t have to turn the lights on when you go!

  10. There are three bioluminescent bays (bio-bays) in Puerto Rico. One in the SouthWest – “La Parguera”, one on Vieques – “Mosquito Bay”, and the one in Fajardo – “La Laguna Grande”. Out of all three, Mosquito Bay is the brightest, and La Parguera is the least bright. La Laguna Grande in Fajardo is very bright, and it is convenient to do from San Juan and the main island.

    by boat only Mosquito Bay and La Parguera are accessible, Laguna Grande only by Kayak but ZTC and Samantha can wait in Las Croabas bay

    NOTE: still one yr behind your blog but i have to comment!!!!

    • We anchored in La Parguera but I don’t remember any bioluminescence when we were there. I do remember briefly running aground there, and that is tough to do when you only draw 3′!

      Sadly we never made it to Mosquito Bay. Perhaps the name kept us away. 🙂

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