About the Bioluminescence Lesson
A lesson on bioluminescence in marine creatures. The reading is accompanied by true/false questions.
• To introduce students to bioluminescence in marine creatures.
Bioluminescence is a fascinating capability of some creatures to create their own light from within the body. “Bio” is the root of biology and biography and refers to life; luminescence means “emitting light without heat.” Together they imply creating light from a living organism. Fireflies and glowworms are the most familiar creatures that can produce light. Researchers have studied fireflies extensively in an attempt to figure out how they emit light. If the researchers could duplicate the firefly’s light emitting process it could potentially be a useful way to generate light without using electricity.
There are only a few land-based creatures that have bioluminescent properties. Besides fireflies and glowworms, some species of fungi, centipedes, beetles and snails emit light. Yet bioluminescence is a property that is common to the inhabitants of the ocean, especially those that live in the ocean depths. Sunlight penetrates approximately 4,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, getting dimmer with each foot lower from the surface. After the sunlight finally fades at about 4,000 feet, the undersea world is completely dark – except for the millions of tiny lights that are generated by bioluminescent creatures. In the deep ocean, about 80 to 90 percent of the inhabitants emit light.