The Luminous Lagoon stretches along the marshlands of Trelawny from the small community of Rock to the town of Falmouth. In the 18th century when sugar was king, Falmouth was one of Jamaica’s most pivotal ports. Located at the eminent point where the Martha Brae River meets the Caribbean Sea, the lagoon housed a wharf where large vessels from England unloaded goods onto smaller ships to be delivered inland up the river. Once inland, these boats would reload with sugar, rum and other Jamaican exports and carry them back to the harbor.
Years after the decline of the sugar trade, scientists discovered the lagoon’s geographical location was important for another reason. It was the single best place to observe and study microorganisms called dinoflagellates, which thrive in the layers where salt and fresh water combine and glow the brightest in shallow, warm water.