Bioluminescence in Cave Dwelling Organisms

Cave geology, biology, and similar topics. Also visit the NSS Biology Section, or the Cave Geology and Geography Section, or the NSS Paleontology Section.

Moderator: Moderators

Bioluminescence in Cave Dwelling Organisms

Postby chyron » Apr 11, 2006 12:37 pm

I am in the process of writting a story where a key component of the plot involves the main characters passing through a cave. The problem is that the society is pre-technological. In short, flashlights or other means of illumination are not readily available. Basically, the characters may be in the utter dark which would of course cause some problems.

Has anyone encountered any bioluminescent fungi/moss in caves and/or know of any resources that I could use to confirm the degree to which such organisms might be found in a cave?

I have a lot of flexibility in that the story is fantasy-based and thus any bioluminescent organism, regardless of region, will work. Worst case scenario, I might have to resort to torches.
chyron
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 11, 2006 11:49 am
  

Postby Phil Winkler » Apr 11, 2006 1:11 pm

There are glow worms in many caves in New Zealand. Google that and see if it could work.

Hmmm..wasn't there a song in the 50s about glow worms? Glow little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer......
Phil Winkler
13627 FE
User avatar
Phil Winkler
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2375
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 8:48 am
Location: Wilmington, DE and Dewey Beach
NSS #: 13627FE
  

Postby Wayne Harrison » Apr 11, 2006 1:24 pm

The original "Journey To The Center of the Earth" movie used this same sort of idea... where they didn't need lights after they discovered the cave walls coated with some sort of glowing mirco-organism (very convenient). I never read Jules Verne's story, so I don't know if that's from the book.
User avatar
Wayne Harrison
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2382
Joined: Aug 30, 2005 5:29 pm
Location: Pine, Colorado
NSS #: 18689 FE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: unaffiliated
  

Postby chyron » Apr 11, 2006 1:36 pm

Great, something else to read. At any rate, in snooping around the internet I'm thinking that a biolum organism isn't that far fetched. I am tossing around the idea of an organism that when exposed to light responds by creating light itself. The idea would fit nicely with the general theme of the story. BTW - I've never been spelunking, but I'm thinking that that'll change shortly once I get into more of the research aspect of the story.
chyron
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 11, 2006 11:49 am
  

Postby Phil Winkler » Apr 11, 2006 2:15 pm

Chyron,

So, where are located?

Caving (spelunking for Reader's Digest readers) is the world's greatest outdoor/indoor sport.
Phil Winkler
13627 FE
User avatar
Phil Winkler
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2375
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 8:48 am
Location: Wilmington, DE and Dewey Beach
NSS #: 13627FE
  

Postby chyron » Apr 11, 2006 2:28 pm

Warm & Sunny (and Flat) Orlando
chyron
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 11, 2006 11:49 am
  

Postby Squirrel Girl » Apr 11, 2006 2:40 pm

There is a also a fungus, foxfire, that glows in the dark. I've seen some, but it's barely present, even when it exists. The reality is that you're really stretching it to find a cave with ambient light. Except for the glow worms in NZ, which I haven't seen, the fact is caves are black. Darker than night. I think you should just invent some fictional source of light, because there isn't any in real caves (past the entrance(s)), except what people bring along with themselves.
Barbara Anne am Ende

"Weird people are my people."
User avatar
Squirrel Girl
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3190
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 5:34 am
Location: Albuquerque, NM
NSS #: 15789
  

Postby NZcaver » Apr 11, 2006 2:40 pm

In some New Zealand caves, the glow-worms are prolific enough that you *might* be able to navigate through parts of a cave just by their light. If you tread carefully, that is. :wink:

What about the use of flaming torches? They've been a proven method for cave dwellers for many thousands of years. :question:
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Postby Sean Ryan » Apr 11, 2006 4:01 pm

The thoery with reed torches is that a group of guys would go in, each with multiple dry torches. Two or three would be ignited at a time, and when they were about to burn out you'd switch to a fresh torch (and possibly a fresh guy holding the torch). This way the group stayed together, there was enough light for all, you didn't burn through the torches too quickly, and there was limited danger of all torches going out at once (this is before lighters and matches, remember).
Sean Ryan
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 222
Joined: Sep 6, 2005 4:17 pm
Location: Jersey City, NJ
  

Postby NZcaver » Apr 11, 2006 4:33 pm

Sean Ryan wrote:The thoery with reed torches is that a group of guys would go in, each with multiple dry torches. Two or three would be ignited at a time, and when they were about to burn out you'd switch to a fresh torch (and possibly a fresh guy holding the torch)...

Ah yes, the origin of carrying 3 sources of light for caving... :wink:
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Postby Wayne Harrison » Apr 11, 2006 7:06 pm

I've been reading about oil lamps in the olden days around the Mediterranean -- basically a sea shell with oil (fat) in it and a wick of some sort. Anybody know how those worked?
User avatar
Wayne Harrison
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2382
Joined: Aug 30, 2005 5:29 pm
Location: Pine, Colorado
NSS #: 18689 FE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: unaffiliated
  

Postby chyron » Apr 11, 2006 8:09 pm

Wayne Harrison wrote:I've been reading about oil lamps in the olden days around the Mediterranean -- basically a sea shell with oil (fat) in it and a wick of some sort. Anybody know how those worked?


Funny you should mention the Mediterranean as the story will feature character names that are all derived from Greek and/or Greek Mythology (I'm half Greek). Also anything that is said that is of an intimate or serious in nature will be spoken in Greek.

As to the comment about the glowworms and reed torches...
The first go-round in the cave features the hero being left for dead in a cave following a seismic event which results in him and at least one other going over a ledge. He then has to find his way out, but ends up on the other end (a key plot point). For this bit, I'm thinking that he ends up following glowworms or something similar. (Not to mention that they're probably a good source of protein.)
In the second go-round, its up to him to lead a small group through the cave at which point he uses torches.
chyron
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 11, 2006 11:49 am
  


Return to Speleology Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users