Everything is illuminated! No, I’m not talking about the movie with Elijah Wood, I’m talking about the bioluminescence, the Northern Lights, a freaky glowing mushroom forest in the heart of the New-York City and other crazy-looking natural wonders around you that can be seen only at night. Some of these phenomena are still scientific mysteries, and we’ve only just slowly uncovering the secrets of our home planet.
1. Atlantic Rainforest, Sao Paulo
First thing on your mind when you see these pictures is probably: “Is this from the new Avatar movie?” And I can’t blame you because this rainforest jungle in Sao Paulo does look all glowy and trippy. All because of the fungi species Mycena Luxaeterna a.k.a. “eternal light mushrooms”. Unfortunately, they are extremely rare, so the scientists still don’t have any definitive answers except for “they look pretty”. Scientists aren’t good at describing their feelings.
2. Horsetail Fall
Ever wanted to see a lava fall? It’s just like a waterfall but with lava instead of water. Horsetail Fall will deliver on that if you decide to visit California’s Yosemite National Park in either winter or early spring. Now, full disclosure? It’s not actual lava. For a few days every year, as the sun sets behind the horizon, the last rays of sunlight will bounce off of the Horsetail Fall at just the right angle, creating a short-lived, yet unforgettable illusion of literal lava pouring down.
3. Eastern Coast, Australia
Meet the Clusterwink snail. It’s usually found along the Australian coast, living in small colonies. They’re famous for their protection mechanism that is pretty flashy (pun intended). When agitated by any outside stimuli like other animals or just curious divers poking them with GoPRO’s on a selfie stick, these fellas light up like Christmas trees to make themselves look bigger and scarier. While this may be effective against fish, humans won’t get fooled that easily!
4. Blue Grotto, Italy
This magnificent grotto in Italy is like a nature’s fiber-optic cable, where the light from the outside is squeezed through a small hole, illuminating the entire cave in heavenly blue shine. No mushrooms, no glowworms, just pure light!
5. Forests in the Smoky Mountains of Elkmont, Tennessee
Every year in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, millions of fireflies take part in an inexplicable light show that mesmerizes any and all spectators. While the “gathering of fireflies” may sound somewhat trivial and boring, you will not regret seeing it with your own eyes, as these pulsating little night lights prefer to choose glowing fungi as their landing pads, making this an even brighter experience!
6. Hachijo-Jima Island, Japan
Visiting Japan in summer? Don’t forget to check out Hachijo-Jima Island and its famous hiking trails speckled with emerald-glowing mushrooms! The perfect time to see the fungal “light show” is during the rainy season that usually lasts from May to late August.
7. Toyama Bay, Japan
Toyama Bay is the only place in the world, where you can see the Firefly Squid, an almost exclusively deep sea dweller, with your own eyes, without having to dive into the dark and cold depths of the Pacific Ocean. This spot has been their breeding grounds for centuries, maybe eons, so no wonder the Japanese art and folklore have more references to squids and tentacles, than any other culture on the planet! All jokes aside, at night time this place looks like a shot from one of Miyazaki’s anime.
8. The Ocean Depths
Speaking of deep sea creatures… After billions of years of living under immense pressure and adapting their bodies, survival skills, and hunting mechanisms, these monsters finally popped up on our radars and people freaked out. Since the middle of the 18th century we’ve discovered living organisms of almost any shape, size and form we could (and couldn’t) imagine, but the scientists currently know more about the planets in our solar system, than about those abominations lurking in our oceans.
When you look at these photos of deep sea creatures you can’t help but wonder “How is it that we can land a probe on an asteroid in space, but we don’t have good enough technology to explored the bottom of our planet?” Whatever the reason is, it’s wrong because before looking for extraterrestrial life in the galaxies far far away we should check our backyard, which is full of undiscovered alien-looking monstrosities waiting to be discovered.
9. Forest Park, New York
A species of fungus known as Panellus Stipticus or “bitter oyster”, commonly seen in New England woods, has an unstoppable urge to glow in the dark, presumably attracting bugs and … tourists. These shrooms illuminate the forest by mixing a pigment called “luciferin” with oxygen from the atmosphere, making Forest Park one of New York’s most beautiful places to visit. Scientists are still not quite sure as to why these fungi developed this trait other than to lure in small insects to spread the spores, but that’s a boring explanation, don’t you think?
10. Catatumbo, Venezuela
Catatumbo in Venezuela may be the closest thing to Hell we’ll ever get to see. This phenomenon has many names ranging from the “never-ending storm” to “gates of hell” and judging from the looks of it – it may very well be that. Nearly 300 flashes of lightning every hour, 10 hours a day, five months a year make this “storm” a perfect attraction for tourists and scientists.
11. Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
New Zealand is full of breathtaking tourist spots like the Hobbiton or the never melting Glaciers but once you’ve been to the New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves, your world will be turned upside-down. Secretions of a very peculiar species of the glowworm, called Arachnocampa Luminosa, make the inside of the caves look like a beautiful starry sky. And the facts that you’re awe-struck by worm saliva makes this place even more surreal.
12. Vaadhoo, Maldives
Ah, Maldives, probably the closest thing to heaven you’ll find on Earth. One of the islands, Vaadhoo, is especially popular among the tourists. Hordes of tiny bioluminescent sea creatures, known as Phytoplankton, get regularly washed ashore creating an illusion of billions of star pieces scattered on the beach. If you can’t afford a trip to Maldives and Google Images just don’t do it for you, you can always go to San Diego, where a very similar occurrence also takes place.
13. Kilauea, Hawaii
In the modern age of rocket science and space travels we, as species, have almost completely forgotten how terrifying and wildfire can be. Sure, you can use a fire extinguisher on your stove or throw some sand on your campfire but what will you do to put out a volcano? Every day at sunset, Kilauea, the ever-active zit from hell, gives off a huge cloud of sulfur and steam that morph into a spectacular mix or crimson-red smoke and superheated molten rock fireworks straight from the center of the Earth.
14. Norway, Polar Lights
To see the fabled Northern Lights all you need to do is cross the Arctic Circle. Sounds easy, right? Well, that’s where things get tricky if you want to do it no your own. If, however, you’d prefer not to freeze to death or get stranded in the ocean full of icebergs, you should just book a flight to Tromsø, Norway. Aside from being an incredibly fascinating location by itself with rich history and cultural legacy, Tromsø’s cruise ships provide unforgettable trips for tourists from all over the world, who came all this way to witness the shimmering emerald lights in the sky. By the way, did you know that this famous natural phenomenon occurs when highly charged particles of the Sun come into contact with different particles in the Earth’s atmosphere? In other words: the worlds are colliding.
15. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Bolivian salt flats are one of the most inexplicable natural phenomena on this list. The landscape is so incredibly flat that it messes with your brain and your vision, which is one of the main reasons that photographers from all over the world dream of snapping a perfect picture here. Additionally, on a rare occasion when it rains, this place turns into a literal Mirror Land.
I bet you didn’t see this one coming! Our entire planet is one huge natural wonder, and we light it up every night, just like the glowing mushrooms and deep sea creatures light up forests and oceans. Look at this beauty in its full glory!
How can we even care about something as trivial as oil prices or waging wars, when we are but a speck of dust in the infinitely growing and ever-expanding universe?