By Joseph Hileski- Collegiate staff
In the new “Creatures of Light” exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which opened March 11, visitors move through a series of recreated bioluminescent environments starting with the familiar fireflies and mushrooms on land, to the extremes in the depths of the oceans.
The “Creatures of Light” exhibit explores the diversity of organisms that glow and explains how and why they do it. Visitors get to see the ways in which bioluminescent light is used to attract mates, lure prey, defend against predators, and learn about the ways and reasons that scientists study this amazing natural phenomenon.
“This brand new exhibit provides a very immersive experience for all ages, it takes all the senses,” said Kate Moore, VP of marketing and PR at the GRPM. “It’s something the people of Grand Rapids have not seen before.”
After letting their eyes adjust to the dark, visitors will get to explore the bioluminescent world.
Bioluminescence is visible light generated by a living organism through a chemical reaction. The light we know best, incandescent light,is associated with heat. Bioluminescence on the other hand, is cold light.
Eighty percent of all bioluminescent creatures inhabit the world’s oceans. At certain depths nearly all the organisms glow. On land things are quite different. There are bioluminescent fungi and insects but no flowering plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians, or mammals.
Scientists are still working to figure out how bioluminescence evolved, but the widespread occurrence of it tells us that the trait provides an important survival benefit to the organisms that posses it.
From glowing mushrooms and fireflies here in North America, to deep inside a cave in New Zealand to see the brilliant light show put on by hungry glow worms, to Northern Brazil to view bioluminescent cockroaches, all the way to the deepest depths of our oceans where the female Anglerfish has her own built in fishing rod with a lure that pulses light, this exhibit offers many wonders to behold. The “Creatures of Light” exhibit provides a unique and intriguing, educational experience exploring the bioluminescent universe.
For information on hours of operation and admission prices, visit the museums website.