bioluminescence

Kind of like lava lamps but better! These jellyfish are real. They have died of natural causes, been harvested by these lamp makers, frozen in liquid nitrogen and encased in crystalline epoxy. They glow in the dark, due to the jellyfishes’ natural bioluminescence.

- messynessychic

In the dark of the ocean, some animals have evolved to use bioluminescence as a defense. In the animation above, an ostracod, one of the tiny crustaceans seen flitting near the top of the tank, has just been swallowed by a cardinal fish. When threatened, the ostracod ejects two chemicals, luciferin and luciferase, which, when combined, emit light. Because the glow would draw undesirable attention to the cardinal fish, it spits out the ostracod and the glowing liquid and flees. Check out the full video clip over at BBC News. Other crustaceans, including several species of shrimp, also spit out bioluminescent fluids defensively. (Image credit: BBC, source video; via @amyleerobinson)

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The Magical World of Living Light

This is the mysterious spectacle of bioluminescence. Its hard not to revel in the beauty of this remarkable natural phenomenon. These glowing creatures are primarily a product of the ocean. They are the primary source of light in the largest and darkest area of habitable land on Earth, the deep sea. On land, they are most commonly seen as glowing fungus on wood (foxfire) or in the few families of luminous insects (fireflies). 

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Today the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders transports us to the Maldive Islands. It was there that Taiwanese photographer Wei Hung He encountered a beach covered in a magical starry carpet made of millions of bioluminescent phytoplankton. 

“These tiny organisms glow similarly to fireflies and tend to emit light when stressed, such as when waves crash or when they are otherwise agitated. While the phenomenon and its chemical mechanisms have been known for some time, biologists have only recently began to understand the reasons behind it.”

Visit Wei Hung He’s Flickr stream for additional photos of this marvelous sight.

[via Colossal]

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the japanese word for firefly is hotaro, which is thought to derive from ho taru, which literally means ‘to drip fire’. there are about two thousand species of firefly, but japan is notable for its two aquatic species, the genji and heike. only ten species are known to be aquatic in their larval stage. 

despite the swarm of fireflies (known as a firefly contest) seen here, their numbers in japan are dropping due to pesticide use, which kills the river snails that firefly larvae eat. (click pic or link for photo x, x, x, xx, x, x. see also previous firefly posts)

vine

The light patterns on these glowing jellyfish are just amazing.