Glowing Lagoon Tourist Attraction in Puerto Rico Goes Dark

Image: Glowing Lagoon Tourist Attraction in Puerto Rico Goes Dark The Fajardo Grand Lagoon at the Nature Reserve of Las Cabezas de San Juan is pictured at dawn of April 1, 2005

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013 01:56 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A glowing lagoon, a tourist attraction for Puerto Rico off its northeast coast, is now nearly dark, leaving researchers scrambling for clues why.

The Fajardo Grand Lagoon's glowing waters, according to The Associated Press, attracted a wide range of tourists who would go in boats at night from adjacent Fajardo to see the lighted waters, created when its microscopic organisms were disturbed.

London's Daily Mail reported that the lagoon is filled with one-celled organisms believed to be half-animal and half-plant called dinoflagellates that glow like fireflies in the water. An enzyme called luciferase made the organisms bioluminescent.

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The organisms, though, have not been seen in the last nine days.

"We have been compiling data," Puerto Rico's secretary of the Department of Natural Resources Carmen Guerrero said. "There are a lot of factors that could be at play."

Fajardo Mayor Anibal Melendez told the AP he believed runoff from the construction of a nearby water and sewer treatment plant has caused the lagoon to go dark and has asked for the plant to be moved.

"We've never seen anything like that," Melendez said about the darkness of the lagoon.

Guerrero told the AP there could be more reasons than just the runoffs. She said rainstorms that generate heavy waves could be another possibility for affecting the lagoon's bioluminescence.

"It's important to give these experts room so they can do their job and help us understand what happened in the lagoon and why it has temporarily lost some of its brightness," Guerrero told the AP.

Alberto Lazaro, of Puerto Rico's water and sewer authority, told the AP that the water and sewer plant, set to be completed in 2016, was badly needed in the area because sewage is being dumped into the lagoon near ocean.

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"The goal of the project is to conserve this valuable resource, and we have designed and developed this project taking all those requirements into account," Lazaro said.

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