Fun Facts About Dinoflagellates | Bioluminescence Kayaking FL


If you choose to go on one of our Florida bioluminescence tours, you should be lucky enough to witness one of nature’s most beautiful phenomenon – dinoflagellates.

Dinoflagellates are single-cell organisms that can be found in streams, rivers, and freshwater ponds. 90% of all dinoflagellates are found living in the ocean. They are better referred to as algae and there are nearly 2000 known living species. What makes them so remarkable is that the dinoflagellates you will witness on your tour can glow in the dark – they are bioluminescent!

Here are some facts about dinoflagellates that you can astound the rest of your group with on your next Florida Adventurer Bioluminescence Tour!


Dinoflagellates are tactical

For something so small, they are surprisingly clever. When the water around them is disturbed, certain types of dinoflagellates will emit a bright, blue light – an action which experts believe is either designed to confuse any prey nearby, or to attract other, larger organisms that are further up the food chain to the area, thus potentially eating what is threatening the dinoflagellates!

They are miniature time capsules

Despite being so small, dinoflagellates are very resilient. When their environmental conditions get too tough, they can form tough little cysts that can survive in the sediment of their water as fossils for as long as 100 years. Once conditions improve, the dinoflagellates can reanimate. This incredible skill makes it very difficult for experts to track their evolutionary history since they could potentially transform from noncyst to cyst formation multiple times.


Dinoflagellates are behind a phenomenon known as ‘Red Tide’

Red tide may look like a sea of blood, but it is actually a result of the rapid accumulation of a certain species of dinoflagellate. When this species appears in large numbers, it can cause the water to take on a reddish tinge. It is important not to consume seafood from an area which has experienced a red tide. This is because the dinoflagellate can release toxins into the water which can affect any marine life living there. If we were to then eat fish or other seafood that has been present in the water during the red tide, we could become unwell.

They like to sunbathe

Dinoflagellates rely on sunlight for photosynthesis, and this means that during the day, they can be found floating near the surface of the water, catching as many rays as they can. However, since their nutrients are rapidly depleted up here, these clever little organisms spend the night time heading deep into the water where they can eat.


If they are hungry, dinoflagellates aren’t to be messed with!

While they prefer to chow down on other small, single-celled organisms, dinoflagellates aren’t afraid of grouping together in large numbers to tackle larger prey. When they do this, they insert their feeding tubes into their target and suck out all their goodness.

They can create some of the most beautiful natural light shows you will ever see

When you head out on your bioluminescent tour, it will be dusky or dark. This will help to enhance the effects of the light show that the dinoflagellates will put on for you when your oars disturb the water. Look into the inky darkness below and you will see sparks of bright blue that shoot off into the distance as if a chain reaction. The lights will swirl, shimmer and shine brightly enough to light up an entire cove of trees in their magnificent neon blue!


No two bioluminescent tours are the same. Come along and witness your very own, unique light display courtesy of Florida’s own bioluminescent dinoflagellates. Click here to book your tour today!