Birding Far North Queensland
Glow in the dark mushrooms!
January 26, 2013
On a hot, balmy night in tropical North Queensland we decided to go on the hunt for something we had heard about but never witnessed - bioluminescent fungi.
This phenomenon is difficult to find - only appearing after summer rains and lasting just a night or two. So armed with insect repellant and headlights we set off to explore the Tableland Crater Lakes under the cover of darkness.
The excursion started off with a fantastic surprise as what looked like an odd-shaped leaf turned out to be a Chameleon Gecko! This little guy was exquisite, with dark blazes covering his partially forward facing eyes (which gives the lizard almost binocular vision). Like other geckos, this reptile sheds it's tail to escape predation but also goes one-step further - the writhing tail produces a squeaking noise to distract predators!
After getting our new friend safely off the road we continued on our nocturnal traipse. After about half an hour of spotlighting at the Lake Eacham boardwalk we heard a friend shout out and as we approached were awestruck by an eerie glow coming from the forest floor. We turned our torches off to appreciate the full effect as the small, toadstool shaped fungi became iridescent before our very eyes!
There is not much information out there about why some organisms emit light but we know that a few insects, fish and fungi do it. It is thought that in the fungi's case, this light is created by a chemical reaction, which may attract insects which then help to disperse spores. Whatever the reason, it is an awesome experience to watch such a 'simple' organism generate an otherworldly light before your very eyes.
|Terrestrial Reptiles||1 species|
|Chameleon Gecko (Carphodactylus laevis)||1|