Glow-in-the-Dark Creatures Show Off on Warm July Nights | The Institute for Creation Research
Glow-in-the-Dark Creatures Show Off on Warm July Nights
In America, the month of July is accompanied by fireworks, even in the heavens.1 However, July is also a time when certain glow-in-the-dark animals—creatures of the sky and sea—shine forth their own “night lights.”2

Two such examples are noted here: lightning bugs in the air, and jellyfish in the sea. Both of these animals are bioluminescent. These creatures produce biochemical oxidation-based “cold” light from their own bodies.

Biological luminescence (not the same as phosphorescence) is light produced by a complex chemical reaction within an organism. The chemical reaction producing this "cold" light involves at least two chemicals: "luciferin" which produces the light; and an enzyme called "luciferase" that catalyzes the reaction.3

Before America’s agricultural activities became dominated by unnatural fertilizers and pesticides about 40 years ago, lightning bugs (a.k.a “fireflies”) were common in rural America during the warm weeks of summer.

In more recent decades, however, you are more likely to see huge cloud-like populations of fireflies only in croplands owned and operated by traditional farmers, such as the Amish farms of Pennsylvania and Ohio. For example, fireflies thrive on the cornfields of Pennsylvania Dutch communities of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County where at night they brightly swirl above cornfields the size of football fields.

But what is happening inside those tiny insect bodies to produces those bright and blinking yellow flashing lights?

During June and July, after spending most of the year underground, fireflies emerge to attract a mate. Light, produced in the firefly’s abdomen section, flashes on and off in a specific pattern or code. There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies and each species has its own light code. In most firefly species, the males fly about while flashing their code. Females, usually on the ground, will flash the same code back. The male joins the female on the ground, where they mate.2

But some sea creatures—like the moon jellyfish and some comb jellyfish—also exhibit bioluminescence, but they do so as they drift inside dark tidewaters. Their bioluminescent ability to shine such light is nothing new, of course, because jellyfish have always been jellyfish.4

The Chesapeake Bay, especially its southern waters, supports its share of living lights. Many microscopic bacteria and plankton can produce light. … Other larger light creatures include the moon jellyfish and some species of comb jellies. The moon jelly sports four pink, horseshoe-shaped gonads atop its 10-12 inch “head.” Its tentacles are marginal and very short. The light from a moon jelly appears bluish. Comb jellies are similar to other jellyfish, like sea nettles, in their gelatinous appearance, minus the stinging tentacles. ... One comb jelly common in the Bay is the sea walnut, named for its oval shape. When disturbed, the sea walnut flashes a green light along its combs. Although only 4 inches, the effect created by hundreds of congregating sea walnuts can be quite startling. In deep ocean waters, up to 80 percent of all jellyfish, squid, shrimp and fish are luminescent. In the pitch blackness of ocean depths, it seems logical that so many animals can produce their own light.2

It’s “logical,” of course, when we recognize God as the designer of all sea creatures.

Light displayed by jellyfish, floating in tidal coastwaters, is pleasant to see—but don’t reach in to the water to touch them.5

Meanwhile, as you watch moon jellies glow in the dark, or fireflies blinking their lights above rural fields, consider how our lives should point others to God.

That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…6

References
1. Staff Writer. Perseids Meteor Shower 2020. Time and Date Aksjeselskap. Posted on timeanddate.com July 10, 2020, accessed July 16, 2020.
2. Reshetiloff, K. In a Flash, Nature’s Night Lights Add Sparkle to Summer Lights. Chesapeake Bay Journal. Posted on bayjournal.com August 2, 2019, accessed July 16, 2020.
3. Sherwin, F. 2003. Living Light. Acts & Facts. 32(1).
4. Sherwin, F. 2008. Jellyfish Reveal the Recent Hand of the Creator. Acts & Facts. 37(12):14.
5. Sherwin, F. 2008. PB & J (Painful Blisters and Jellies). Acts & Facts. 34(10). See also Johnson, J. J. S. Jellyfish Serves Variety of Venoms in Stinging Cocktail. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org June 14, 2020, accessed July 16, 2020.
6. Philippians 2:15-16a.

*Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.
The Latest
NEWS
Inside October 2020 Acts & Facts
What is ICR’s vision for the next chapter of creation ministry? Why do mosquitoes attack humans? How did we celebrate the first anniversary of...

ACTS & FACTS
Abound in This Grace
One of the strongest exhortations for Christian giving is found in Paul’s encouragement to the believers in Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul...

APOLOGETICS
Food Web Ecology Corroborates Scripture
Real-world ecology supports the Bible’s trustworthiness. Accordingly, how creatures get and use food matches how Scripture describes our world.1-3 Food...

ACTS & FACTS
Leviathan: Legend, Croc, or Something Else?
In Job 41, God points Job’s attention to a terrifying animal called leviathan. It’s clear this was a real creature, but what was it? Bible...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Mosquitoes Attack: Mystery Solved
It’s late evening. You’re relaxing on the backyard deck when suddenly they find you. Mosquitoes! One way they locate you is by tracking...

DISCOVERY CENTER
ICR Discovery Center's First Anniversary Celebration!
The ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History recently celebrated the first anniversary of its grand opening. To commemorate this milestone,...

ACTS & FACTS
New Testament Upholds Created Kind Stasis
The opening chapter of Genesis makes a significant and scientifically accurate statement concerning the fixity of created kinds. During the creation...

ACTS & FACTS
An Old Friend Came Home
Years ago, an attendee at an ICR Back to Genesis seminar approached me with a fossil he and his daughter had found while on a hike in Washington State....

ACTS & FACTS
Lava Flows Disqualify Lake Spillover Canyon Theory
There has been considerable debate among scientists over the origin of Grand Canyon. We all agree it was formed by the removal of some 1,000 cubic miles...

RESEARCH
ICR Paleoclimate Research Continues
Because the Genesis Flood caused the Ice Age,1 studies of Earth's past climate, or paleoclimatology, have long been a focus of the Institute...