Glowing my way? Creatures of Light {Review} | The Life of K: Glowing my way? Creatures of Light {Review}

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Glowing my way? Creatures of Light {Review}

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The Museum of Nature in Ottawa is the host of a very special exhibit: Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence, which opens this weekend and runs until November. This is a must-see exhibit that is sure to dazzle and amaze. It makes my biologist heart sing! Bioluminescence is defined as the generation of light by living things.

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I was invited to the media preview earlier this week and I'm so grateful. Being able to hear directly from the museum's CEO and the scientists who helped put together the exhibit was incredible. It's obvious just how excited and proud they are, and rightfully so: it's an exhibit full of wonder.

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Up on the fourth floor, you enter a dark room with glowing words welcoming you to the exhibit and black lights illuminating everyone who enters. We had fun under the black lights.

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Glowing Little K and Little J.
The first thing you see is a giant green mushroom, and throughout the exhibit are examples of nature's bioluminescence: fireflies, glowworms, dinoflagellates, and many deep sea creatures. Most of the world's bioluminescence is found deep in the oceans where it's dark, but the biggest bioluminescent organism is actually a fungus found in the US.

I really liked learning about dinoflagellates, single-celled organisms that predate the dinosaurs, that makes oceans, lakes and rivers glow, and walking along a path lit up with flashes of light. There was a spot where you can use white light and fluorescent light to illuminate a coral reef and see how the different lights make different things visible.

The most incredible thing to see, in my opinion, was the live flashlight fish. These fish have an organ underneath their eyes that have a bacteria that bioluminesce, and in the dark it looks a lot like Spiderman's eyes glowing out at you. The fish were taken during a new moon off the coast of Japan and brought back to Canada. Why a new moon? Because the fish don't like moonlight and during a new moon it's dark and they come closer to the surface where they socialize and eat. An exhibit planned around a new moon was a first for the museum.


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Glowing jellyfish.
Near the flashlight fish, which will die if exposed to light so no flash photography in that section, are huge scale models of jellyfish, but if your kids are anything like mine, they'll be scared and not want to spend any time there.

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Enthralled by the presentation on deep sea creatures.
Farther into the exhibit is a theater set up showcasing some examples of deep sea creatures like the jellyfish, a viperfish, and a sea cucumber. The kids sat through the English presentation, the French, and then most of the next English one. I took the opportunity to explore the rest of the area which was home to the vampire squid and the angler fish. The female angler fish has a fishing rod-like appendage to catch prey. When I learned about this fish in university I had nightmares.

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You're lucky it's so dark and you can hardly make out the super scary angler fish.
I was impressed that the kids recognized the different zones of the ocean: the sunlight zone, the twilight zone and the midnight zone. I have Octonauts to thank for that.

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The zones of the ocean.
In Ottawa you can find examples of bioluminescence in June and July around dusk when fireflies flicker and flash. The best place to find them is in fields near forests.

To see this exhibit there is a surcharge of $8 for adults and $6 for children aged 3-12, though there are special "glow moments" throughout the museum that are included in the regular price of admission. One of the glow moments is located on the main floor near the coat check (past the gates and to the right). It's a graffiti glow booth that my kids absolutely loved. You grab a can and "spray" light onto the walls to create glowing messages and images. Such fun!

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Share your graffiti with the world using #CreaturesofLight.

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Making glow graffiti.
And some extra fun next month is the glow-in-dark theme at the museum's Nature Nocturn, which I am definitely going to. A special glowing party at the museum at night? Count me in!

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Bioluminescence. May 3 - November 9th.
A big thank you to the museum for inviting me to preview the exhibit and to my mother-in-law who was able to come and hang out with the kids during the presentation part of the event.


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My kids and their Mimi.
You have to let me know what you think of the exhibit and what your favourite part is. Mine was definitely the flashlight fish but there were so many cool parts.

P.S. Check us out in the Ottawa Citizen!



Disclosure: I was able to preview this incredible exhibit but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

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