Glowing wonders of nature

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Some animals, plants and mushrooms only reveal their real beauty in the dark, when they literally start glowing in yellowish or blueish colors. The most widely known example of bioluminescence in animals is the way the fireflies emit light while searching for a mate. Beside the glowing bugs, there are other spectacular species, which paint caves, forests or seas in mysterious blue or green lights.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Glowworms look like stars on the cave walls... (By Donnie Ray Jones - Green Glow Caves in New Zealand, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60777565)

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is popular tourist attraction, and is known worldwide thanks to the breathtaking videos recorded at the glowing caves, which had been shared hundreds of thousands of times by social media users. The dim lights covering the cave walls almost resemble the starry skies, but, of course, they have nothing to do with real stars. The lights are emitted by a glowworm species - the Arachnocampa luminosa - that lives only in New Zealand.

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While the glowworms are undoubtedly beautiful and unique, they have a "darker" side, too. They produce an eye-catching silk thread with round shaped, almost pearl-like nodes on them. When you look closely, you can see that the glow and the silk thread serves one purpose: to lure and trap other animals. Perhaps even more interestingly, the composition of the thread is completely different from those that spiders produce - glowworms make their thread traps form urea, right from their guts...

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Waves of light on the shores of Australia

Bioluminescent phytoplankton are not only native to Australian waters, but near Preservation Bay, they glowed so brightly they caused something close to a "world sensation". The photos made on the beach became very popular, and were shared many times on social media.

"Sea sparkle" - officially called Noctiluca scintillans - is a species of algae that emits light to protect itself from predators, but the light is usually not easily noticeable to humans. However, there are times when the environmental conditions are exceptionally ideal for the algae, and then they start multiplying. When they appear in large masses, and the movement of the waves makes them "frightened", their glow becomes not only noticeable, but quite spectacular too.

The glowing forest in Shikoku

Glowing mushrooms can be found on various places on Earth - Europe, Japan and South America, for example, all have unique species of glowing fungi. As for Japan, the so-called "glowing forest" in Shikoku is the most well-known habitat of the luminescent mushroom, which emits a bright, green light in the rainy season. Although the green spots of light can only be seen in a short period of time each year, many people try to take a glimpse at them while in Shikoku.

Glowing mushroom

Glowing mushrooms only appear for a short period of time each year (By self - Own worklalalfdfa, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3967070)

Anita Diós

June 2018