Dana Point Adventure: Bioluminesence Night Cruise

Keep an eye out for something much, much, much tinier than whales.

KISSES, WHALES: We would never, ever be less than kind to those gentle behemoths of our oceans, the blue whales and the gray whales and those amazing orcas that we've seen more of over the last few watching seasons. Whales that come near shore, or skim past the boats of shore, are some of the superstars of the Golden State, despite never setting foot -- or fluke, rather -- on land. (Aside: Is it odd that we sometimes consider visiting whales to be honorary Californians, out of pride? True, whales belong to the earth, and are far greater than any one terrestrial location -- point taken.)

BUT... our region's famous whale-watching cruises aren't the only on-the-water boat trips that head out, further into the deep, to look for the gifts of the mighty Pacific. There are cruises that look for something far, far, far, far smaller -- four "fars" should do it -- than a whale, an organism so eensy that it might appear at the opposite end of one of those posters that line up the smallness-to-bigness of every earthling. For if the whales are on one side of that poster, than euphasids -- "small 'bug-like' organisms" -- must be near the other end. They're tiny, but they pack a visual punch on the right night, as people who've joined an Ocean Institute Bioluminescence Night Cruise have discovered. The Dana Point on-the-water trips depend on factors like what phase the moon is in, so they happen every so often, but when they do, it can be glow-water magic.

WELL, NOT MAGIC... but the science of why euphasids show up, on board, when a net is drawn up the boat's side, carrying their own very tiny flashlights. (Not really, but figuratively.) It's beauty, it's ocean poetry, and it is rife with knowledge and marine-fascinating facts. Want to see that sometime, so it can fill your head and stir the science-y parts of your brain and heart? Keep a watch for the next moon phase, and trip, here. Tickets are $35 per adult, $22 for kids ages 3 to 12. Glowing ocean stuff! Can we get a "wow"?

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