Bioluminescence

Deep Ocean Explorers

The submersible Alvin carries scientists to the deep ocean, where they encounter amazing creatures and views of deep ocean life. Explore more in the Deep Ocean Exploration section .

Sea Creatures from the Deep: A Video by National Geographic and the Census of Marine Life

The Census of Marine Life - a ten-year effort by scientists from around the world to answer the age-old question, “What lives in the sea?” It was an international effort to asses the diversity,...

Encounters with Bioluminescent Creatures

Scientists describe the amazing bioluminescent creatures they encounter as they descend into the deep--siphonophores, ctenophores, and viperfish--in this Smithsonian/History Channel "Deep Ocean Explorers" video excerpt. If you like this video, watch the full 14-minute...
This aptly named fish has two long fangs.

Creepy Critters: Marine Life Surfaces for Halloween

Claws, spines, spikes, tentacles, and fangs. Aliens, monsters, and ghostly apparitions glowing in the night. Marine life forms have some of the best looks for Halloween—no costumes needed. From freaky fish lurking beneath the...
Photograph of the underside of a gelatinous octopus with a bright yellow bioluminescent ring around her mouth.

Bioluminescent Animals Photo Gallery

Bioluminescence is one of the more captivating adaptations that have evolved in marine animals. It's the ability of organisms to create and emit light. Dive underwater and you may witness lightshows of red, green,...
A photo of a 2011 installation by artist Shih Chieh Huang, featuring his illuminated creations made from everyday objects.

When Art Meets Science: Exhibition Inspired by Bioluminescence

Artist Shih Chieh Huang creates his work using plastic bags, household objects, computer cooling fans, LED lights, and other assorted materials. This photo is of a 2011 installation at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum...

The Making of "The Bright Beneath"

Follow an artist from inspiration to installation in this short video. It features the work in the exhibit, " The Bright Beneath: The Luminous Art of Shih Chieh Huang ," at the Smithsonian's National...

Light Painting Tutorial

What does a bioluminescent creature that lives more than two miles below the surface of the ocean and a glow stick have in common? More than you think. Bioluminescence is the process by which...
A light painted image of a hand-painted ceramic fish with light emitting from its mouth

Using Light Painting to Teach Bioluminescence

Watch this short video tutorial to learn how to do light painting. Painting with light is a photographic technique that can be used in the classroom to help students understand bioluminescence. What does a...
Chrysaora melanaster is a jellyfish found in the Arctic.

Jellyfish and Comb Jellies

Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are both beautiful—the jellyfish with their pulsating bells and long, trailing tentacles, and the comb jellies...

Bioluminescence in Art and Science with Edie Widder

Dr. Edie Widder spoke at the National Museum of Natural History as a part of the Changing Tides Lecture Series and discussed her work on underwater light: light chemically produced by animals through a...
A photo of a squid using bioluminescence to hide in the deep sea.

Bioluminescence

You may have seen the sparkle of fireflies on a summer’s night. The fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction in their glowing abdomens, a process known as bioluminescence. But did you know that...
Ocean Portal Logo

Six Ways to See Ocean Ocean Bioluminescence

Video of Barnacles feeding on bioluminescent dinoflagellates By Emily Frost Whether it’s the winter dance of the Northern Lights or the summertime glow of fireflies, displays of natural light fascinate us humans. Bioluminescence is...

The Weird, Wonderful World of Bioluminescence

“It’s a little appreciated fact that most of the animals in our ocean make light,” says Edie Widder, biologist and deep sea explorer at ORCA. In this TED talk, she shows incredible film and...

Glowing Dinoflagellate Meal

Watch as barnacles feed on bioluminescent dinoflagellates. Barnacles are crustaceans (like crabs, shrimps and lobsters) that secrete their shells for protection while living attached to things like rocks, harbors or boat hulls. They feed...