Bioluminescence occurs when living organisms produce their own light. You’re probably most familiar with fireflies, a form of land-bound bioluminescence. However, most forms of bioluminescence are found in the ocean.
In bioluminescent bays, tiny dinoflagellates—a type of plankton—give off bursts of light a hundred times their own size. Here, when the object hits the water’s surface, light is produced by chemical reactions within the thousands of plankton. Some other bioluminescent organisms include the firefly squid, comb jelly, and railroad worm.
Bioluminescent ecosystems are highly fragile, and increasingly suffering from Earth’s warming temperatures. It’s possible that within a few years many of these sources of bioluminescence will disappear; several already have.
But in the meantime, we can still enjoy their wondrousness.
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