Make Your Own Creatures of Light
Stylized, colorful text reading "Make Your Own Creatures of Light."

Every wonder why some organisms flash, blink, or glow? Bioluminescent creatures are living things that generate light. Explore some of them that live on land and in the sea.


Firefly & Glowworm

In a forest in North America, mushrooms glow with an eerie green light. Fireflies signal one another in a pattern of yellow flashes.

Deep inside a cave in New Zealand, a hungry glowworm can produce over 40 sticky lures!

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In the deep seawater world of complete darkness, the only light comes from living things:

  • The vampire squid waves its flashing arm tips to startle predators.
  • The deep-sea anglerfish dangles a light to lure prey.
  • The stoplight loosejaw dragonfish uses its red light (invisible to other organisms) to illuminate prey.
  • The hatchetfish and bristlemouth use their light to blend in with dim sunlight coming down from above and to hide from predators prowling below.
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Image Credits:

Firefly, © Jeff. J. Daly/Alamy; Waitomo glow worm larvae, © Kjell B. Sandved/Visuals Unlimited; deep-sea anglerfish, courtesy of Edith Widder/HBOI.