Bioluminescence – Images of life that glows

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Microscope image of bioluminescent dinoflagellates. Photo: Martin Dohrn Microscope image of bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Pyrocystus fusiformis). This image is taken with a beam splitter camera, where the bodies of the dinoflagellates are lit by infra red light so as not to disturb their bioluminescence. Photo: Martin Dohrn

David Attenborough with glowing millipede. Photo: Martin Dohrn David Attenborough holds a Motyxia millipede. The reason behind its bioluminescence is thought to be to deter predators. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Cardinal fish eats and rejects glowing ostracod Cardinal fish spits out ostracod after it releases bioluminescent flash-bomb. This image is taken with a beam-splitter camera, where the fish is lit with invisible infra red light. Photo: Martin Dohrn

David Attenborough stands with a "firefly fishing rod" in Pennsylvania. David Attenborough stands with a “firefly fishing rod” in Pennsylvania. The fishing rod was invented by firefly scientist Jim Lloyd to decipher the bioluminescent language of fireflies. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Glow worms in caves in Tasmania These glow worms are in fact the larvae of a predatory species of gnat, living in caves in Tasmania. Their bioluminescent glow draws insects to a trap of sticky threads hanging from the roof of the cave. Photo: Fraser Johnston

Dinoflagellate bloom, Tasmania, Australia. Dinoflagellate bloom, Tasmania Australia. These algal blooms are often known as ‘red tides’, because of the way the colour the sea water in daylight. At night, the bioluminescent dinoflagellates create a pure blue light whenever they are disturbed. Photo: Fraser Johnston

Bioluminescent pyrosomes. Photo: Martin Dohrn Bioluminescent colonies of colonial Pyrosomes. Their bioluminescence of each individual in the colony can be triggered by touch, or light, so that colonies near each other can light up together. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Glowing fungi (Panellus sp.) Some species of Panellus mushroom are bioluminescent along the edges of the gills. Nobody knows why. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Luminous earthworm from the Loire Valley of France Bioluminescent earthworm from the Loire Valley of France. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Bioluminescent flashlight fish Bioluminescent flashlight fish. The bioluminescence is created by captive colonies of bacteria in special organs under the eyes of the fish. This image is taken with a beam splitter camera, where the bodies of the fish are lit by infra red light so as not to disturb their behaviour. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Firefly squid. Photo: Martin Dohrn Firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans) have photophores covering their bodies and bright clumps on the ends of their arms. The photophores used to countershade the silhouette of the squid so that it can’t be seen from below. To account for the different colour of light at different depths, some of the photophores are green. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Glowing firefly Fireflies use bioluminescence to attract mates, their signals are specific to individual species. This species is Photuris pyralis from the eastern United States. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Dragonfish bioluminescence. Photo: Martin Dohrn The dragonfish (Idiacanthus antrostomus) has lines of bioluminescent photophores along its ventral side which it is thought are used mostly for defence. Photo: Martin Dohrn