Sometimes god puts in some extra effort into nature , making the place look magical. Bioluminescent beaches or glow in the dark beaches( as they are commonly known) make the place look magical. Although the phenomenon can be scientifically explained by bioluminescence , I stilled am in awe of its magical  beauty.

BIOLUMINESCENCE  bioluminescence

The word bioluminescence simply explains any chemical reaction  that produces light. It take place inside a living organism. Another important fact is that this reaction produces minimum thermal energy or heat, giving it yet another name of “cold light”.

Most bioluminscent organism are native to ocean and some like firefly and certain fungi to land. Almost no organism has been found habituating in fresh waters till date. Lets move on to the chemistry behind bioluminescence.


The chemical reaction that results in bioluminescence requires a substrate Luciferin and a catalyst . Chemically speaking it is a rearrangement of luciferin that produces a compound capable of producing light.

The bioluminescent color (yellow in fireflies, greenish in lanternfish) is a result of the arrangement of luciferin molecules.
Some bioluminescent organisms synthesize luciferin on their own. Dinoflagellates, for instance, bioluminesce in a bluish-green color. Bioluminescent dinoflagellates are a type of plankton—tiny marine organisms that can sometimes cause the surface of the ocean to sparkle at night.
Some bioluminescent organisms do not synthesize luciferin. Instead, they absorb it through other organisms, either as food or in a symbiotic relationship. Some species of midshipman fish, for instance, obtain luciferin through the “seed shrimp” they consume. Many marine animals, such as squid, house bioluminescent bacteria in their light organs. The bacteria and squid have a symbiotic relationship.
The interaction of the luciferase with oxidized (oxygen-added) luciferin creates a byproduct, called oxyluciferin. More importantly, the chemical reaction creates light.
Most reactions involve luciferin and luciferase , some exceptional cases however, involve photoprotein. Photoproteins combine with luciferins and oxygen, but need another agent, often an ion of the element calcium, to produce light. Photoprotein were first identified in crystal jellies and are also known as GFP or green fluroscent protein.
Biolumniscence can be a means of communication, a defence mechanism usually opted by organism when under threat or can be bioluminescencesometimes used to attract prey. It looks too beautiful to human eyes to be scary , but is enough to alarm other organism in the sea. Simple acts like  running your hand through the water, swimming in it, or even boating disturbs the planktons, it’s easy to get them riled up and glowing.
So if you see glowing beaches it could be Noctiluca scintillans, bioluminescent phytoplanktons that float under the ocean surface and glow when irritated. In most parts of the ocean, especially the deeper areas, bioluminescence is the only kind of light ever seen.

Bioluminescence is being studied by scientists for its use in future experiments. For example GFP is being used as a reporter gene that when attached to other gene allow to trace and monitor their expression.

bioluminescence        bioluminescence

Their could be other uses of bioluminscence , for instance we could use them to light up tress, to light up the roads  at night. or could be used in crops as an indicator of stress, thereby helping farmers . Bioluminescence can be used in molecular  biological studies or to study chemical reactions in human or animal bodies.

Well, they can help enlighten us for sure.

So when you plan your next vacation make sure you keep in mind the glowing beaches.

Let me make it easier for you.

11 Glowing Beaches And Bioluminescent Bays In The World
  • Puerto Mosquito, Vieques, Puerto Rico    
  • Manasquan Beach, NJ
  • Springbrook Park, Australia
  • San Juan Island, Washington, U.S.
  • Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • Big South Fork, TN/KY
  • Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego, CA
  • Ton Sai, Krabi, Thailand
  • Toyama Bay, Japan
  • Reethi Beach, Maldives
  • Waitomo, New Zealand



Pic courtesy: Travel triangle
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2 thoughts on “BIOLUMINESCENCE”

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