Bioluminescence within ocean surface waters is of significant interest because it can enhance the study of subsurface movement and organisms. Little is known about how bioluminescence potential (BPOT) varies spatially and temporally in the open ocean. However, light emitted from dinoflagellates often dominates the stimulated bioluminescence field. As a first step towards forecasting surface ocean bioluminescence in the open ocean, a simple ecological model is developed which simulates seasonal changes in dinoflagellate abundance. How forecasting seasonal changes in BPOT may be achieved through combining such a model with relationships derived from observations is discussed and an example is given. The study illustrates a potential new approach to forecasting BPOT through explicitly modelling the population dynamics of a prolific bioluminescent phylum. The model developed here offers a promising platform for the future operational forecasting of the broad temporal changes in bioluminescence within the North Atlantic. Such forecasting of seasonal patterns could provide valuable information for the targeting of scientific field campaigns.