Breaking news: Hundreds of underwater species radiate neon greens, reds and oranges as they shimmy through the ocean’s depths.1 But sea creatures aren’t the only animals at ease in the limelight. Buzz Hoot Roar guest-author Matt Shipman offers a few good reasons why sea and land animals put on the ultimate light show.






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Harvey , E.N. and K.P. Stevens. 1928. The brightness of the light of the West Indian elaterid beetle, pyrophorus. J. Gen. Physiol. 12: 269-272.

Nicol, J.A.C. 1978. Bioluminescence and vision, pp. 367-398. In P.J. Herring

[ed.], Bioluminescence in action. Academic, London.

*Measured at around 143 cd/m2, their luminescence is comparable to the average computer screen, which can range anywhere from 50-300 cd/m2.

Written by Matt Shipman

Matt Shipman (@shiplives) is a public information officer at North Carolina State University and a freelance science writer. He also writes the Communication Breakdown blog, which focuses on science communication. He lives near Raleigh, in a house full of humans.

Illustrated by James Hutson

James Hutson (@jameshutson) is a writer, illustrator and animator.  He is co-director at Bridge8 (, a foresight and futures agency fostering critical, creative and compassionate thinking through workshops, animations and artefacts.