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
Honeybee Design Saves Energy
Biomimicry is the making of systems or materials that are modeled after flora or fauna found in God’s creation (e.g. the artificial fabric Velcro...

NEWS
Innate Speed-of-Sound Engineering Revealed in Bats
Bats have the amazing ability to accurately and consistently detect the speed of sound.1 This enables them to employ a complex system of echolocation...

NEWS
Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis Conference Coming to Lincoln,...
Are you looking for real answers to the tough questions of faith and science? Come to the Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis Conference on June 26 at Lincoln...

NEWS
Inside June 2021 Acts & Facts
How do the Everglades illustrate Bible-affirming biology? Why do marine sponges inspire engineers? What can we learn about God’s providence from...

NEWS
Two Excuses for Human Evolution Confusion
Public school textbooks assert that apes and humans emerged from an ape-like animal, whereas Genesis 1 says that God created humans and the different animal...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Summer 2021
...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Coral Reef
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Legacy and Faith of a Godly Father
Good fathers serve an essential role in the family, and it’s surely fitting that we express our love and gratitude on Father’s Day. After...

APOLOGETICS
Even Seaweed Is Proof of God's Providence
Tidewater-tossed seaweeds display God’s providence.1,2 Hidden in plain view, tidewater seaweeds are spectacular exhibits of Christ’s...

ACTS & FACTS
What It Takes to Make a Cell: A Review of The Stairway to Life
Rare is the science book that can hold even an average reader’s attention. But The Stairway to Life does just that. Coauthored by biochemist Laura...