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Six Ways to See Ocean Bioluminescence


Whether it’s the winter dance of the Northern Lights or the summertime glow of fireflies, displays of natural light fascinate us humans. Bioluminescence is the source of many such light shows in the wild—especially in the ocean.

Similar to when you crack a glow stick and shake it up, numerous marine animals, plants, and microbes emit bioluminescent light through a chemical reaction. While the light is beautiful, the goal isn’t aesthetic; rather, bioluminescence helps the organism that produces it evade predators, feed or reproduce.

Seen in person, bioluminescence is breathtaking. Here are some ways you can catch sight of life lighting up the ocean:

Glittering Waves

Bioluminescence is readily visible in scores of microscopic marine organisms, including many of the thousands of dinoflagellate species found throughout the world’s oce