Bioluminescent animals create the glow in “living lights,” a special new exhibit in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

Meet amazing animals with the natural ability to glow in the dark in “Living Lights,” a special exhibit open now in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

“Living Lights” introduces guests to some of the most strangely interesting creatures in the sea: animals that can give off light through a process called bioluminescence. Live animals displayed include flashlight fish, pinecone fish, chain catsharks, crystal jellyfish, and more.

“Just as lightning bugs sparkle in your yard on summer evenings, many creatures can glow in the deep ocean where sunlight is dim or absent,” said Barrett Christie, the Aquarium’s director of Animal Husbandry. “Even here in Long Island Sound, comb jellies can give off a glow near the water surface at night. This new exhibit offers a fascinating chance to see this phenomenon in person and to explore the science behind it.”

In addition to the marine animals in “Living Lights,” terrestrial examples featured include a scorpion – they’re naturally fluorescent – and a common forest fungus (Panellus stipticus) that glows as its spores mature.

Displays explain the mechanics of bioluminescence and explore how bioluminescence is used by animals to attract mates, find prey and deter predators. Guests also can learn about medical and environmental advances made possible through the study of bioluminescent and fluorescent organisms.

A dictator scorpion gives off an eerie green glow. All scorpions are fluorescent, although scientists aren’t sure why

Pinecone fish have a bioluminescent organ on the sides of their lower jaw called a photophore: a pale light is produced by symbiotic bacteria within the organ. Its function is unknown.

“Living Lights” is free with Aquarium admission and will be open through December. (During current COVID restrictions, all guests – including Aquarium members – must reserve their admission with a timed entry ticket in advance online. In addition, masks and physical distancing are required.)

Reserve your tickets, and learn more about exhibits, virtual programs, and cruises onto Long Island Sound this summer, at