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iLabs: Some Extra Info on Bioluminescence and a Thank You!

July 25, 2012

A short break from snails before we continue on to the rest of the questions and answers, as a thank you gift is in order.

First, and most importantly, we want to thank the visitors who are watching our progress on the bioluminescent dinoflagellates in our labs. I especially want to thank those visitors who have taken the time to come back again and again to check on the display’s status.  You are truly dedicated and we APPRECIATE your interest deeply. Thank you! And keep coming back. We’ll crack this yet!

We have managed to maintain live cultures of Pyrocystis fusiformis and have also managed to reverse the Pyrocystis‘ day/night cycle so people can see their display of bioluminescence during the day.  The next step in making this display ready for full-time use, is finding a way for the visitors to be able to watch this beautiful light exhibit without exhausting the creatures.

They use up chemical energy every time they flash. It requires time for them to “rest up” before they can flash again. If we have a flask of these creatures and agitate that flask, you can see the dramatic blue flash of light. However each time we swirl the flask after that, the display grows weaker and weaker until they won’t flash. We can switch out that flask for another one, but it makes for a cumbersome procedure, and a less than optimal experience for the visitor. So our current challenge is how to show everyone this marvel of nature in a sustainable way. We are currently speaking with researchers in this topic area to see what suggestions they have for a “sustainable” display. Once we’ve cracked that problem, the Pyrocystis will be up and available for public view.

IN THE MEANTIME, as a “thank you” for all of your patience and determination in this effort, I have some “information gifts.”

We found some incredible information about a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, whose whole research focus is bioluminescence. Here is a YouTube video (it is a lecture he gave and runs about 45 minutes) of Dr. Michael Latz, and it is FULL of great information on bioluminescence. So for anyone out there who loves this subject, ENJOY!

In addition, here is some information on an artist who worked with Dr. Latz to create an artistic photographic collection of these creatures. Her work is described as “eco-photojournalistic,” and in fact she has been referred to as an “ecological archivist” due to her approach to her work. The artist is Erika Blumenfeld, and her work is amazing:

“Around the Pier: Bioluminescence Meets Art in Paris”

Erika Blumenfeld, Art interview Online Magazine

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation: Erika Blumenfled

So as a thank you to all of our visitors, we offer these links.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2012 3:23 pm

    Reblogged this on NC Museum of Natural Sciences Blogs.

  2. July 25, 2012 3:38 pm

    Dr. Maggie Ray sent another link re: bioluminescence from The Scientist, and I wanted to add that to the list of sites that are worth checking out. The article title is DayGlo Science and is at :


  1. iLabs: Erika Blumenfeld’s Photographic Work in Bioluminescent Light « NC Museum of Natural Sciences Education Blog
  2. iLabs: Bioluminescence, Team ORCA and a Dr. Edith Widder “Film Festival”! « NC Museum of Natural Sciences Education Blog

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