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Snow seen glowing after tiny animals wash ashore for first time in 80 years
December 22, 2021
Snow has been seen glowing after tiny sea creatures washed ashore in the Arctic for the first time in 80 years.
Vera Emelianenko is a microbiologist working in some of the most remote parts of Russia, off the coast of the White Sea, and spotted faint blue lights glowing in the snow.
She collected some of the snow, placed it under a microscope and found that the glow was from tiny bioluminescent animals called copepods – with this particular species called Metridia Ionga, the Daily Mail reports.
Dubbed the 'bugs of the sea', these creatures are typically found in the ocean at depths of up to 300ft during the day and then just a few feet at night.
Ksenia Kosobokova, an expert on Arctic marine zooplankton at Russia's Academy of Science in Moscow, told National Geographic that the copepods were likely caught in a powerful current in the White Sea that brought them ashore.
The copepods glowing in the snow were believed to be alive when Ms Kosobokova spotted them, as the tiny animals can survive extremely low temperatures.
Steven Haddock, a marine biologist studying deep-sea zooplankton at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, told National Geographic that the copepods could in fact be dead, as fireflies still glow after being squished.
He said: “It happens for us with our scientific specimens. You collect an organism and you put it in the freezer for later study.
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“And then when you pull it out, it will slowly start to glow—the chemicals that are inside of their bodies are still perfectly capable of reacting.”
Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon that is caused by a chemical reaction.
This happens when chemical energy is covered to light energy, which only happens in a creature carrying a molecule called luciferin.
When luciferin reacts with oxygen it creates light energy that appears like a stunning glow.