It's usually sound that gets my attention first. A new sound is generally not good for my future. It's normally just a nuisance, sometimes a bigger problem, but if I'm lucky, it's nature doing something I haven't heard before. Once, I kept hearing a faint tapping sound, but it was only audible when I laid down to rest, which is the most annoying time to hear new tapping. After days of frustration, I identified the sound as the nozzle of my portable shower gently bumping into the side of a compartment. Just knowing the origin, regardless if I take measures to stop it, alleviates loads of anxiety. What is that sound?!!! Ughhh! Oh, it's just that stupid nozzle that leaks; now I can get on with my life. Yesterday was a day of new sounds, but it was one of the lucky days.
I heard what initially sounded like rain. There wasn't any falling water I could see or feel, but the sound got louder. The sound grew into something resembling a waterfall. I stopped, looked in front of the boat, and saw what appeared to be boiling water. It was an area the size of a basketball court. Churning everywhere. My first reaction was panic - oh no, did I miss something on the charts? Am I about to fall into an abyss, then hopefully rise to safety on top of an underwater alien ship? No, it was just fish. Loads and loads of them jumping and thrashing and doing what fish do. Not a single airborne predator in sight; they missed a huge score. Who knows what was going on below. By the way, when this boiling fish soup occurs, the jumping is very chaotic. Fish are landing in every imaginable orientation. I didn't expect to see fish land dorsal fins first, but that apparently happens.
A new sound like that would be troubling at night. Luckily, I haven't encountered anything so audibly dramatic at night. However, I have experienced the visually dramatic. The night sky, of course - the Milky Way, the constellations, the shooting stars, the intensity of the moon. I'm talking more of a terrestrial visual anomaly. Rowing at night can be tricky. The moon is the biggest help, it can light up the sky enough to see waves almost as clear as day. When the moon is gone, even the stars will suffice on a clear night. When the clouds roll in and the moon is gone, things get weird. Or at least they have recently. I've seen bioluminescence, but this is bioluminescence on steroids.
Normally, when a wave breaks, the water churns white and within the churning is the activation of dozens of individual green lights. Sometimes all you can see is a faint line of green showing the location of a breaking wave. It's the same stuff that lights up around your foot as it presses into wet sand or lights into a swirling halo around your hand as you swim through the water. They also swirl around my oars, and when waves decide to enter my personal space, I've identified little green lights inside my boat. They are invisible to the naked eye unless illuminated. It appears they illuminate when some threshold of agitation occurs, which is why this situation is unique. It's an explosion of illumination in what otherwise appears to be relatively calm water.
It starts as a ball, maybe 1 foot across, illuminating suddenly and brightly, like seeing lightening embedded within a cloud. Except this is night-vision green and underwater, inches below the surface. I can't imagine the number of tiny bioluminescent creatures required to create this ball formation, it must be thousands. The ball flashes suddenly and rapidly, just like lightening. Next, and somewhat simultaneously, the ball expands to a 4 foot diameter circle, the brightness diminishing as the circle grows. Then it's gone, the whole episode lasting maybe a second. The first was startling, then there was 2, then dozens of green lightening spheres surrounding the boat. What is happening?!
I don't know why that was happening, but I'm grateful I was able to see it. It was all I could focus on. It was intense, but only lasted a few minutes, then it was back to regular agitation-induced illumination. What was it? Signaling? Communication? Defense mechanism? A message letting me know they are hungry and to give them food? Probably not the last one. I can tell you one thing, it's very unlikely you'd find me swimming in that lightening storm. Not until I know what's happening. Just like that tapping nozzle, I'd need some investigation for peace of mind. Maybe one of you can provide some insight.