This Stunning Cave In New Zealand Glows Thanks To Light Worms
Planet Earth is home to many of nature’s great wonders. Some are man-made like Stonehenge or the pyramids of Giza, and others such as Australia’s coral reefs and the Himalayan Mountains. What’s even more amazing than these places, is the hundreds of creatures that live in and around them.
Despite the multitude of flora and fauna that exists, many creatures that are not related share similar traits. Though no Chameleon or Octopus will likely ever meet, they can both change the color of their skin to camouflage.
A trait that fewer creatures have than camo is that of bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence is an organism’s ability to put off light or glow in the dark through a special chemical process in their bodies. One of the most commonly known is the firefly. Fewer known organisms are mushrooms with caps that appear to be dotted with stars and glow-worms, worms with bright tail ends.
In New Zealand, there exists a cave with an interesting form of bioluminescent life. A large colony of “glow-worms” Arachnocampa Luminosa lives in the Waitomo Cave located in the southern Waikato region of North Island.
While these creatures do glow and are shaped like worms, they are actually fly larvae. The blue-green glow that Arachnocampa Luminosa emits is due to an excretory organ that produced a silk-like thread.
These organisms use it to catch flies and other bugs and the brighter the glow, the greater the appetite of these devious little trappers. English surveyor Fred Mace and local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau were the first two people to explore the caves in the 1880s.
Commercial tours began soon after the cave system was explored, Tinorau and his wife conducting many themselves. Surprising to many, a handful of the tour guides today are descended directly from the chief and his wife.