Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

April 30, 2014 10:00 ET

"Glow" Wild at New Creatures of Light Exhibition at Canadian Museum of Nature

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 30, 2014) - Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence, a new exhibition on view at the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) from May 3 to November 9, showcases the extraordinary organisms that produce light. Produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City in collaboration with the CMN and the Field Museum in Chicago, this unique show explores the amazing natural phenomena of bioluminescence and biofluorescence.

"This exhibition is a demonstration of the power of international museum collaboration and we are delighted to host its Canadian premiere in the nation's capital," says Meg Beckel, CMN President and CEO. "In the exhibit, four of our scientists share their observations of bioluminescence-in beetles, marine plankton, squid and tiny bottom-dwelling creatures-experienced during their active fieldwork."

"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate the Canadian Museum of Nature and two other international first-rank institutions-the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum-on having collaborated on this spectacular exhibition," said the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. "As we approach Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017, it is a wonderful time for Canadians to learn more about our country by visiting our incredible museums."

Bioluminescence is used to attract a mate, lure unsuspecting prey, or defend against a predator. In Creatures of Light, visitors will move through amazing, recreated environments, from the familiar to the extreme, to explore the diversity of organisms that glow. These immersive sections include a woodland floor with bioluminescent mushrooms, a meadow filled with flashing fireflies, glow worms in New Zealand's Waitomo cave, Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands with fluorescent coral and fish, and Mosquito Bay on Puerto Rico's Vieques Island where the water's surface glows when touched thanks to dinoflagellates (plankton).

Visitors will be able to peer at live flashflight fish in the gallery. Flashlight fish harbour bioluminescent bacteria in an organ under their eyes. They use the bacterial light to communicate, avoid being eaten and to attract prey.

Rare among organisms that live on land, the ability to generate light (through a chemical reaction involving luciferin and luciferase) is much more common in the ocean, where up to 90 percent of animals at depths below 700 metres are bioluminescent. In the section on The Deep Ocean, visitors will see large-scale models of cool deep-sea creatures showing the dramatic interactions between bioluminescent predators and prey. Examples include: a female anglerfish with her own built-in fishing rod, a modified fin spine topped with a lure that pulses with bacterial light and attracts prey to her gaping jaws. The Deep Sea Theatre reveals the diversity of animals that marine biologists have captured on camera, including a jellyfish that lights up like a flashing pinwheel when threatened and a viperfish with fangs so long they do not fit inside its head.

Research by the AMNH has revealed that the phenomenon of fluorescence is incredibly widespread in marine fishes and occurs in sharks, rays, and throughout the family tree of bony fishes. (Bioluminescence is not the same as fluorescence. In the latter, light is not produced from within but rather absorbed from an energy source and reemitted as another colour).

In five different areas of the Museum, visitors will be able to experience special "glow moments". These include a graffiti glow booth, a black-light booth revealing which household objects and products glow, a glow-in-the-forest kids' play area, glowing live coral and anemones, and glow-in-the-dark live scorpions, bitter oyster mushrooms and plants.

Also complementing the exhibition and the glow stations will be fun, short theatrical presentations on the science of bioluminescence. Among the Nature Camp choices this summer at the Museum will be a theme on bioluminescence. Children ages 6 to 14 can discover the variety of animals and plants that produce their own light, and investigate how and why these impressive creatures glow. More information is available at

A surcharge of $8 for adults and $6 for children (3-12) applies to the Creatures of Light exhibition. The five "glow moment" areas are included with regular Museum admission.

As a special treat, the May 23 Nature Nocturne event for adults will have a glow-in-the-dark theme. Tickets are $20 each and are expected to sell out quickly. More information is available at

The Museum is located at 240 McLeod St, Ottawa. Follow the museum on Twitter, on Instagram (museumofnature), and like the museum on Facebook.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history. A first-rank scientific and education institution, it is dedicated to helping shape the attitudes of Canadians toward their natural environment through research, discovery and education. It achieves this through the creation of signature and travelling exhibitions, public education programs, on-going scientific research, a dynamic Web site (, and the maintenance of a 10.5-million-specimen collection. A founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, the Museum is working with partners in Canada and internationally to expand its national service and to develop programs about the natural environment.

Contact Information

  • Laura Sutin
    Media Relations
    Canadian Museum of Nature
    613-566-4793 / (cell) 613-698-7142

    Dan Smythe
    Media Relations
    Canadian Museum of Nature
    613-566-4781 / (cell) 613-698-9253