181. Bioluminescence


Bio luminescence has been the most baffling and bizarre show of light, found in nature. It is the ability of a living organism, to use the chemicals within its own body, to produce visible light. The most common example known to all of us is the “fire-fly”.

Bio luminescence is mainly a marine phenomenon. In the depths of the ocean, where the Sun’s rays can not reach, this artificial light-show is very useful in several ways. Bio luminescence is not seen occurring in fresh water. On land a few insects and fungi exhibit this rare ability. This artificial Light-Show (of the deep ocean creatures) can rival that of the “cities that never sleep”.

Bio luminescence occurs when two different chemicals are mixed together in the presence of Oxygen. The light produced by the marine creatures is blue-green in color. In water, blue light travels best. Most marine organisms are sensitive to blue light.

Light is produced by the special organs called “Photophores”. Luciferin is the chemical that creates light. Luciferase helps in the chemical reaction and acts as a catalyst. When these two chemicals mix in the presence of oxygen they produce light. The byproduct of this reaction is an inert substance called Oxyluciferen.

The display of this “light show” is as varied as its purposes. Some organisms emit light continually while others do so intermittently. It may a warning signal saying, “Keep off!”
Shallow water squids use it as a camouflage.

Others use it for navigation in the darkness. Some others use it as a cozy night-light. Yet others use it for communication, sending out coded signals, in mating seasons. Angler fish use this eerie light, to lure the prospective preys, close enough to be able to gulp them whole.

Whatever may be the purpose and manner of the display, Bio luminescence is one of the most wonderful phenomena seen in the natural world.

Visalakshi Ramani

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