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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Learn How and Why Nature’s Fascinating Light-Emitting Creatures Survive and Thrive
ATLANTA, March 21, 2016 – Twinkling isn’t just for the stars. From glowing mushrooms and insect larvae to vampire squid and fluorescent corals, Earth is full of fascinating organisms that radiate light. Opening on March 26 at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence will take visitors on a mesmerizing stroll through the world of living light. The traveling exhibition will run through August 14, 2016.
Creatures of Light explores Earth’s extraordinary light-producing organisms – from flickering fireflies found in backyards to glowing deep-sea fish that illuminate the darkest depths of the oceans. Guests will move through a series of recreated environments, featuring interactive touchpads and larger-than-life models, to explore extraordinary bioluminescent organisms.
“Bioluminescence is a natural wonder with a fascinating backstory. Organisms develop bioluminescence for a number of reasons, including communication, warning or evading predators, or luring in prey,” said Becky Facer, Fernbank Museum’s Environmental Education Programs Manager. “Creatures of Light allows guests to see nature in a new light as they are immersed in the glow of bioluminescence.”
The exhibition includes multiple immersive environments, from recreated North American forests filled with fireflies and glowing jack-o-lantern mushrooms, to the inside of a mysterious New Zealand cave where glowworms – bioluminescent gnat larvae – drop sticky “fishing lines” from the ceiling to trap prey. Guests also experience the sparkling sea of Mosquito Bay on Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island, home to high concentrations of microscopic dinoflagellates that create a glowing halo around anything that moves through the water.
Visitors will explore the sunless, pitch-black deep ocean, which comprises the vast majority of the planet’s habitable space, and discover how its creatures use light to travel, hunt, mate and even fight off predators.
The ability to glow is relatively common in the deep ocean, where up to 90 percent of animals at depths below 2,300 feet are bioluminescent and where scientists continue to discover bizarre new light-emitting species. Like the crystal jelly, whose glow led to a revolution in cell biology, these deep-ocean animals may hold important clues to essential questions.
Creatures of Light includes a theater of underwater footage revealing the diversity of animals that marine biologists have captured on camera. Due to increasing threats of pollution, overfishing and global climate change, many organisms are in danger of disappearing, some even before they have been discovered and studied. Unique highlights include a sea jelly that lights up like a flashing pinwheel when threatened and a viperfish whose fangs are so long they don't fit inside its head. Large-scale models of a diverse array of deep-sea creatures bring to life 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 to attract prey to her gaping jaws – and a vampire squid that waves bioluminescent arm tips to confuse its attacker long enough to get away.
To enhance the enlightening experience, guests can decode a firefly’s language of light with a “talk to fireflies” hands-on interactive, explore the neon shades of fluorescent coral and fishes found in the Bloody Bay Wall, and view a model of a deep-sea probe used to gather samples and data from the ocean’s depths. Throughout the exhibition, iPads featuring videos, photographs and more will deepen the experience and teach guests about the diversity of bioluminescence.
Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada, and The Field Museum, Chicago. Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence is on view at Fernbank Museum from March 26 through August 14, 2016.
The Creatures of Light Celebration Day on Saturday, April 2 will feature an anglerfish hat craft, a glowing lichen and mineral station, self-guided tours of Creatures of Light and more. For more information on this event, please visit http://www.fernbankmuseum.org/calendar-of-events/creatures-of-light-celebration-day/.
Creatures of Light will be offered with extended hours during Martinis & IMAX® starting with a sneak preview on Friday, March 25. It will be available every Friday through April 29 from 7pm – 10pm (last entry at 9:15pm). Tickets are $11 and include Martinis & IMAX® cover charge. Tickets are free for members. (Separate ticket is required for IMAX®.)
HOURS AND TICKETS: Creatures of Light is included with Museum admission. Tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for seniors, $16 for children ages 3-12, free for children 2 and under, and free for Fernbank members. (Museum admission also includes the special exhibition Wild Music, on view through July 31, 2016.)
Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. The Museum is open Monday – Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday noon to 5pm. Tickets and visitor information are available at fernbankmuseum.org or 404.929.6400.
About Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank Museum of Natural History, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is one of the most popular and iconic cultural attractions in Atlanta. Home to the world’s largest dinosaurs, Atlanta’s biggest IMAX® screen and one of the largest assemblages of urban Piedmont forest in the United States, Fernbank brings science to life through immersive programming and unmatched experiences that encourage a greater appreciation of our planet and its inhabitants. Fernbank continues its nearly 80-year environmental legacy to protect Fernbank Forest while fulfilling an educational mission to inspire life-long learning of natural history. Visit fernbankmuseum.org for more information and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.