Bioluminescence is one of nature’s most magical phenomenon, and a new exhibit at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History explains everything from the science behind it (a chemical reaction causes the glow) to did-you-know facts (up to 90 percent of the animals living in the ocean at depths below 2,300 feet have the ability to light up). Fish do it for a variety of practical reasons — finding food, attracting mates and evading predators — but alongside the science, the exhibit captures the wondrous quality of living things lighting up dark places. Visitors can explore underwater environments, including a life-size display of the Cayman Islands’ Bloody Bay Wall. While most displays feature simulated creatures, one features the splitfin flashlightfish found on deep reefs in the South Pacific.
Curator John Sparks says, “Although they look like alien beings right out of a low-budget horror film, many of the creatures we feature can be found in the deep, perpetually dark waters right offshore from our major cities, such as the Hudson Canyon near New York City.”
The Creatures of Light exhibit runs through Jan. 6, 2013, at the American Museum of Natural History.