All Lit Up!

Friday, March 2, 2018 by Natasha


https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zooplankton2_300.jpgLast week the U.S. Postal Service released a new set of Forever Stamps which feature deep sea aquatic species that are all bioluminescent. Three of the ten new stamps display photos of creatures that were taken in the Gulf of Maine, including a deep-ocean octopus, a mid-water jellyfish and a crown jellyfish. But what exactly does it mean when a species is bioluminescent? 

Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction which takes place inside an organism, causing it to produce its own light energy. The combination of the molecule luciferin mixed with oxygen creates light in the organism. What’s more impressive is that the animals are able to control when they light up depending on what the light is used for, like attracting prey, or a mate.

You may have spent summer nights chasing after fireflies, which possess the ability to produce their own light, but the new Forever Stamps feature 10 of the many aquatic organisms that also possess this ability. Most of these creatures produce a blue-green light, but some have evolved and are able to produce a red light. One organism I would love to see are bioluminescent plankton, which at night, can create a magical looking world on some of the beaches along the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Check out this website to learn more about bioluminescent species and decide which one is your favorite!



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