The Luminous Lagoon in Oyster Bay, Jamaica

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As someone who has observed the gradual dimming of La Parguera Bay’s luminescence in southwestern Puerto Rico (the other two bioluminescent bays on the island still seem healthy— Mosquito Bay in Vieques and the Laguna Grande in Fajardo), I was dismayed to read about the possible destruction of another spectacular site, Jamaica’s Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth. Snailwriter’s Diana McCaulay reports about the fate of Falmouth’s Luminous Lagoon. As Yardege’s Karin Wilson observes, McCaulay’s article “highlights extremely well the contentious conflict between economic development and environmental conservation in Jamaica.”

The government is about to start development of the construction at the Falmouth Pier of a larger cruise ship pier, the Falmouth Cruise Ship Quay, without fully determining (despite initial studies) the full extent of the impact of construction and subsequent traffic that will affect the currents in the harbor, and subsequently, the Luminous Lagoon and its concentration of dinoflagellates (Pyrodinium bahamense) that give the lagoon its luminescence. Despite the reservations expressed by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, equipment has already started arriving at the port area.

McCaulay poignantly sums it up: “And so it is that in all likelihood, the light of the little critters that shine will be dimmed, even extinguished entirely from that special place. It is also likely that this murky experiment with Jamaica’s natural resources – I have not here described the cutting of the coral reef to accommodate the giant ships, or the dredging – will bring very small economic benefits to the people of Falmouth by way of short term, low paying jobs. It is very likely that an authentic place of history will be part Disneyfied, wholly faked, and this old town constructed on a crime against humanity – for Falmouth’s wealth and status was built on the enslavement of Africans – will welcome cruise ship passengers with rum punches and mento dancers. And the little critters that shine will become part of history, perhaps part of a report headed ‘lessons learned,’ a story told by old people, perhaps eventually assuming the realms of myth.”

For full article, see http://snailwriter.blogspot.com/2009/08/little-critters-that-shine-and-falmouth.html

For a study on the bioluminescence of Oyster Bay, see http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119912226/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

Photo from http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-01/980565430.Es.r.html

5 thoughts on “The Luminous Lagoon in Oyster Bay, Jamaica

  1. Wow!!

    I never knew a place like this existed. I have been to Jamaica several times, spending time in Montego Bay along with Nigril.

    I found out about Luminous Bay while reading my daily word which is a supplement to my daily bible readings.

    I found it interesting that the author stated that this place was one of the wonders of the world, a place where God’s Glory shines through.

    Another fact the I found most interesting is that many local residents of the country are not even aware that Luminous Bay even exists.

    I find it overwhelmingly hard to believe that the Government would allow Luminous Bay to fade into history, along with many other humanitarian issues that need to be addressed and corrected.

    My Soul Cries Out!!!

  2. Is this still true? I have planned a whole trip as a surprise for my wife based around the fact that Jamaica has this beautiful luminous lagoon. Reading this has made me so upset. I have been planning this trip for Feb of 2012 if anyone has any current knowledge of what is going on please contact me at

    Midnightmonkey62@gmail.com

    1. Did you go and witness the dimmed luminescence. the coral is gone, the seagrass as well and chemical level of water change. i live around here…. its gone 😦

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