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Animals that Glow!

There is nothing as amazing as the wonder of nature. From colourful light displays, giagantic waterfalls, dark caves, hot springs, our wonderful world has it all. Our planet is buzzing with amazing plant and animal life.

Do we spend enough time appreciating what is around us? How much of this wonder do we really see?

Courtesy: Shutterstock

Today we wanted to introduce another amazing wonder in nature – we call it bioluminescence! Complicated? It is really the production and emission of light by living organisms themselves. Yes, they light up in the most amazing way!


The magic of bioluminescene is simple chemistry! All bioluminescent animals have two chemicals in their bodies: Luciferin and Luciferase.

When these creatures breathe in oxygen, luciferin reacts with the oxygen (helped by luciferase) and voila! Animals Glow.

Simply Put:

Luciferin + Oxygen  ------------------------------->  Cold Light

Sadly we can’t glow, we have no luciferin!



Courtesy: Dreamstime

The closest to all of us is the firefly. But a firefly is not the only animal that illuminates. There are many kinds of bacteria, mushrooms, fungi, octopuses, squids, clams, jelly-fish, corals and underwater plants that glow and brighten our world. That is, if we are looking!

Courtesy: Will Ho

There are beaches around our world that actually glow like this! These starry lights that you see here are the little bioluminescent phytoplanktons. (Phytoplanktons are extremely small plants which float away in the sea.) Stress caused due to the lapping of waves, contact with other sea animals, disturbance in their environment by a human, or ship or boat causes these bioluminescent phytoplanktons to emit bright blue lights!

When these bioluminescent plants and animals gather in masses, a very large area of a sea or ocean starts glowing bright blue. When seen from afar, the light appears somewhat white in colour. This is why we call it the Milky Seas Effect!

Fun Fact:

The Mosquito ‘Bio’ Bay in Puerto Rico is one of the brightest recorded bays in the world! It is because it is home to little glowing creatures called ‘dinos’. These dinos when they come in contact with other creatures or are shaken and disturbed, give off a burst of bright blue light.

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