Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

Little Cayman, Cayman Islands

Bloody Bay Coral Wall

A glowing underwater cliff attracts marine life and divers in equal measure. 

Little Cayman has a population of less than 170, and nearly everyone who lives there is associated with diving in one way or another and even among these connoisseurs Bloody Bay is the island’s most wondrous dive.

Supposedly named for numerous pirate battles, the bay is best known for the incredible underwater drop not far from shore: a nearly vertical wall of coral 300 meters down. While this impressive expanse would be enough to attract divers from around the world, the coral here doubles down on the natural wonder with its natural bioluminescence. 

This coral is home to numerous bioluminescent creatures, most of which are microscopic. While many organisms use bioluminescence to distract prey or predators or to indicate willingness to mate, no one is really sure what the symbiotic benefit is for the coral. In addition to the near invisible organisms residing in the coral, the living rock also fluoresces. Fluorescence is often confused with bioluminescence, but while bioluminescence is light created by an organism, fluorescence requires an external source of light (like sunlight or blacklight).  Most coral are capable of one and Bloody Bay does both, making it one of the most colorful and otherworldly dives in the world.

Diving is easy and popular here on Little Cayman and a night dive is easily arranged, but you’ll need sophisticated equipment to capture the full range of colors on display. However if you aren’t afraid of the dark, Bloody Bay may be one of the most impressive sights in the natural world.

 

Contributed by
Jeff Wagg
Edited by