Skip to content
45 min read

The Enchanting World of Bioluminescence: A Natural Wonder in Florida


What is bioluminescence and how does it work?

Bioluminescence is a process where living organisms make light. It often happens with marine animals such as comb jellies, plankton, and bony fishes. Visitors to Canaveral National Seashore in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon can see bioluminescence created by comb jellies and plankton.

This light is made by special cells. The energy from the chemical reaction is turned into light. This chemical reaction happens because of enzymes and luciferin compounds. These are mixed together to make a bioluminescent reaction that makes a gentle but beautiful blue and green light show.


Examples Of Bioluminescence In Nature

The most well-known example of bioluminescence are fireflies which emit a yellow-green light at night. However, there are many other examples as well. Fish such as anglerfish have luminescent lures on their heads to attract prey while squid use their abilities to attract mates. Even plants, plankton, and fungi such as mushrooms can be bioluminescent!

Bioluminescent plankton illuminating dark water.
Comb Jellies showing bioluminescence

Why Plants & Animals Use Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is used by living things for four different reasons:

  1. To help them find food or avoid being eaten,
  2. To talk or mate,
  3. To protect themselves,
  4. To use oxygen.
How comb jellies use bioluminescence

Why Are Comb Jellies Bioluminescent?


One example of bioluminescent animals are comb jellies. They sparkle during the day time and flash blue light at night when they are disturbed in water! Comb jellies bodies match up with the moonlight above them so they are less visible to any predators lurking below them.


Comb Jellies

Bioluminescent comb jellies in Canaveral National Seashore & the Indian River Lagoon

Comb Jellies are zooplankton, they cannot swim against the tides and currents in the water. You can see these animals shimmering like a rainbow as they swim during the day. While kayaking or boating at night their bioluminescence bursts in flashes for about one second every time they’re moved.

Why plants and animals started making bioluminescence

About The Origin Of Bioluminescence

People think that bioluminescence, or the ability to create light, came from creatures who needed to remove oxygen. These creatures might have come from deep sea environments where there wasn’t a lot of oxygen.

Glowing organs would help them get rid of oxygen by breaking down organic materials. This would give them an advantage over other creatures who couldn’t create light. Zooplankton and phytoplankton use this ability to get oxygen from chemical reactions instead of getting it from the air or water.

Where is the best place to see bioluminescence in Florida?

Florida Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is a beautiful natural phenomenon seen in Canaveral National Seashore and the Indian River Lagoon of Florida. This happens when there is a chemical reaction inside the plant or animal.

For example, comb jellies and phytoplankton are bioluminescent creatures found in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. When the water is disturbed, these creatures will produce blueish flashes of light. This can be a very enchanting scene for those who witness it. It often sparkling at night while kayaking, giving visitors an amazing sight to behold


The Magic of Bioluminescence


We hope this article opened your eyes about this incredible natural wonder! Whether you’re a family looking for something fun to do together – come explore the magical world of bioluminescence today!

At Canaveral National Seashore in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, you can view bioluminescent creatures such as comb jellies and other plankton.