What is bioluminescence?« Back to Questions List

It is a naturally occurring phenomenon in which chemical reaction inside a living organism causes light to emit. Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms and terrestrial invertebrates. A number of species from fish to squids, shrimp are equipped with their own built-in tiny flashlights.  There are light organs inside these organisms that are arranged in different ways. On some creatures the lights are dotted here and there; on others they are arranged in long rows or patterns.


In some cases, the lights are produced by colonies of luminescent bacteria that live in the animal’s light organs. Other creatures are equipped with special light producing cells. The ability to produce light on its own helps the animals attract preys, find their way through darkness and also used in self-defense.


Fireflies and glowworms are non marine bioluminescent life forms. They are soft-winged beetles with blinking tail lights. They usually start flashing at dusk and stop by mid-night.


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