A Beautiful Hidden World!

Look at the photo on the top left. That’s a firefly projecting its bioluminescence. And the one on the top right is a chameleon in its fluorescent state.

Both bioluminescence and fluorescence are experiences of light in different ways. In the case of bioluminescence, an emission of light is produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism. Most bioluminescent organisms, or deep-sea creatures, are found in the ocean, but almost none of these organisms are native to freshwater habitats. Bioluminescent fireflies, and some types of fungi, are among the ones found on land. (firefly photo courtesy of madrimasd.org) It is thought that there is a survival value in organisms being bioluminescent.

Fluorescence, however, does not involve a chemical reaction. In fluorescence, a stimulating light – UV light, is absorbed and remitted by the organism. By definition, fluorescence is the absorption of light in one color and the emission in another. It occurs when a special structure glows in the presence of a fluorescent light. Fluorescent animals include scorpions, corals, jellyfish, the South American tree frog, a rare type of sea turtle, and some chameleons, to name a few. (photo courtesy of Scientific Report, Jan.15)

And as we are well aware at Birds on the Brink Sanctuary, some plants, bees and butterflies also fluoresce.


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