Glow My Mind Week campers practice communicating with light.

Glow My Mind Week campers practice communicating with light.

Sanibel Sea School’s Glow My Mind Week was all about creatures that light up the night. Bioluminescence, the emission of light by living organisms, is a common phenomenon in the ocean. Plankton and larger marine invertebrates like jellyfish, squid, and some shrimp species often emit blue or green flashes to scare off predators and attract prey and mates. These flashes are fueled by a compound called luciferin, found in the bodies of bioluminescent animals. When luciferin reacts with oxygen, it produces light.

Campers observe an experiment to understand how catalysts work. 

Campers observe an experiment to understand how catalysts work. 

To explore this concept, campers built their own version of the ocean at night by covering up the windows and painting glow in the dark sea creatures around our classroom, then they participated in an experiment to create their own bioluminescence. We also played games and wrote and performed skits to demonstrate how different sea creatures benefit from their ability to light up.

Mirror tag is the perfect way to show how animals scare predators away using light.

Mirror tag is the perfect way to show how animals scare predators away using light.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the week was the night snorkel. Campers met on the Causeway at 8 PM and, led by counselors, headed out to the seagrass in search of glowing ocean-dwellers. “If you moved your hands around to stir up the water, you could see the plankton lighting up,” said Wade, a snorkeler, “and we saw some really interesting shrimp and fish!”

A lightning whelk discovered on the sandbar.

A lightning whelk discovered on the sandbar.

As always, the week also included surfing, making ocean art, and a milk and cookies slideshow for camp families to enjoy. 

Campers prepare for the weekly surf paddling competition!

Campers prepare for the weekly surf paddling competition!

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