This is a very common questions from people when they hear about our Bioluminescence Tours
The answer is both simple and complex;
The simple answer is: Bio = life Luminescence = Emission of light. So bio-luminescence is light that is emitted by a living organism.
This light is produced using biologically produced chemicals in a living organism, usually from a protein in the Luciferin family. It is similar reaction as in glowsticks, except in glowsticks the light is chemical-luminescence. In Bio-luminescence the protein mixes with a catalyst which creates and oxidation-reduction which also produces photons. It is a relatively simple and energy-efficient reaction that produces a lot of light.
The more complex answer is that it is not just 1 or 2 types of organisms that produce bioluminescence. There are literally thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of organisms that have the ability to create some sort of bioluminescence. There is a huge variety in the types of organisms using bioluminescence; from microscopic single-cell dinoflagelletes to complex animals like fish and octopus and every thing in between. Mostly found in salt water, but there are many terrestrial organisms that produce bioluminescence, including lightning bugs, glow worms and many types of insects.
The reasoning behind bioluminescent organisms producing light is as varied as the animals themselves. Some use the light for protection, blinding or confusing potential predators. Others use it to draw attention to themselves, either to attract mates or prey. In the deep dark ocean bioluminescence is a very efficient way to communicate, and could be used by as many as 80% of all creatures below 300ft.
So chances are that if you go looking around at night in the ocean, or even on land, you will probably encounter at least one type of glowing organism. At The Sweet Spot we take people on tours and normally see at least 2 types of bioluminescence, and possibly up to 4 types, in just a 2 hour tour.
You can take a tour with us in the Cayman Islands or Guanaja, Honduras to some of the brightest and most consistent Bio Bays in the world. To read more about our tours click here.