Glow Worms: “Nature’s Fireworks Shows”

October 27, 2011

They’ve been described as “nature’s fireworks shows” — and an on-line resource for fish enthusiasts now says among Bermuda’s least heralded natural wonders are the stunning bioluminescent displays that appear in the water of select bays during the second and third days after a full Moon.

“In the summer and early fall, scientists, locals and visitors alike gather on Ferry Reach Bridge in Whalebone Bay Park to witness the bioluminescent spawning of the Bermuda glow worms [pictured at top] that begins precisely 56 minutes after sunset,” reports The Fish Channel this week.

“You can also enjoy this underwater light show through guided boat tours by the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.”

Fish Channel writers Dr. James B. Wood and Kim Zeeh say bioluminescence was once explained by wild stories of sea monsters and other mysteries of the deep.

“But scientists now know that bioluminescence is the result of the oxidation of the substrate luciferin catalyzed by the enzyme luciferase,” they said. “Light is generated as a product of this reaction. This light is termed bioluminescence when this reaction occurs within a living organism.”

Short Video of Bermuda Glow Worms Mating

Bioluminescence is often referred to as “cold light” because nearly 98 percent of the energy from the reaction is efficiently used to produce visible light, which leaves very little energy released as heat.

The Bermuda glow worm uses bioluminescence to attract mates. Female glow worms release a bioluminescent slime that attracts males.

When the males arrive the females release their eggs, and the males release sperm to fertilise the eggs. Male glow worms flash bioluminescence sporadically to signal their approach to the females.

Dr. Wood is a marine biologist and faculty member at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences [BIOS]. He teaches marine invertebrate zoology and other courses and conducts research on marine life.

Ms Zeeh is a recent graduate of Eckerd College with a Bachelors of Science in marine science and has worked as both an intern and a teaching assistant at BIOS.

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Category: All, Environment

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  1. Gillian Prystupa, nee James says:

    Delighted to learn Bermuda’s Glow Worms are ‘on the scene again’. Enjoyed on Warwick Beaches immensely in 50′s,haven’t noticed any evidence of them subsequently regrettably. When visiting with a sibling in New Zealand 1978, did enjoy The Glow Worm Caves, during a coach tour. Mother Nature
    provides many beautiful scenes.