Vieques: Really, a Shark Attack in Mosquito Bay?
I’ve mentioned before that I can sit at the beach all day and be completely entertained and fulfilled. Sometimes I actually feel a little guilty about it, as if I should be productive or experience something I’ve never done before. With that in mind, this is how I ended up in Vieques. During my trip planning, I read a lot of different opinions on whether Vieques or Culebra was the more idyllic vacation spot. Culebra is smaller, and some say it has better beaches. Vieques is described by some as too populated but more lively– and some say it has better beaches. It was pretty much a toss-up for me, and in the end I chose Vieques for one reason: the bioluminescent bay.
Apparently there are only 7 bio bays in the world, and Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the best and brightest. The bay has the perfect conditions for a huge number of specific microorganisms to flourish there. When these organisms are disturbed by movement in the water, they glow. It’s a defense mechanism that works to attract attention to the predator and makes the microorganisms appear to be much larger that they really are. The water in Mosquito Bay glows so brilliantly because of the high concentration of these dinoflagellates. There are over 700,000 of these organisms per gallon of water, a significantly higher concentration than found in the open ocean.
Knowing that at one time I feared the mysteries that could be lurking in murky water, swimming in a black bay at night was a big step for me. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I wasn’t going to pass up, and it was truly spectacular to watch the water itself light up in the perfectly calm night.
We used Abe’s for our tour, and they were a lovely, friendly bunch. We packed into vans with some of us piling into the bed of a pickup truck. We thought an open air ride through the back roads to the bay would be a more adventurous way to go. Evidently, so did everyone else, as I found myself crammed into the back of the truck with no room to move. With my knees pulled into my chest and body parts falling asleep, it was not the ideal time to have a spider crawling up my leg. Is there an ideal time for that? I couldn’t perform the natural spastic response I would normally do to get the spider off of me. Instead, I had a deceptively calm discussion with the stranger next to me as I squirmed and managed to flick the spider onto him. The anticipation was high and I was choking down the fear, knowing that at any moment it could be flicked back onto me.
As some time has passed and I now fondly laugh at the high drama of my encounter with nature, I have come to learn about recent events in Mosquito Bay. A shark attack. Yes, I said shark attack— a very rare, but very real occurrence in the bio bay. It’s a good thing for me (and my selfish self) that it didn’t occur until a few weeks after we were there. On a dark night like any other, a young woman was on a bio bay tour just like ours, and she became the bait.
And now I can’t help but wonder, what does a shark attack look like in a glowing bio bay?