Time-lapse shows secret world of dazzling glowworm caves (video)

Glowworm cave
Screen capture Stoked for Saturday/YouTube

Photographer spends 60 hours in the caves of NZ to capture the stunning starry universe of bioluminescent insects.

Fireworks, fireflies, a starry sky … we seem to have an affinity for things that sparkle and glow. And while all of us may not have an affinity for insect larvae, those of the fungus gnat provide one of the planet’s most dazzling light shows.

New Zealand’s famous glowworms – the aforementioned gnat larvae, Mother Nature does have a good sense of irony – have been drawing admirers to the country’s caves in droves for a chance to see their bioluminescent beauty. The magic happens in their tails, which glow to lure prey towards a trap of sticky threads. Gnat “worms,” sticky threads, snared prey … it all sounds a bit Gothic, but to see a cave teeming with the blue-green glow of glimmering creatures is breathtaking.

We’ve shown photos of glowworm caves before – but the time-lapse video below ramps the experience up a notch. Jordan Poste spent 60 hours in the caves in an act of wonderful artistic obsession – filming involved sleeping on an air mattress in the watery caves; there were eels! Poste writes:

While they are quite mesmerizing to watch, taking pictures of glowworms is extremely time-consuming. Exposures take 30 seconds to 30 minutes, there is a constant risk of water contaminating the lens, and the only option to avoid the crowds is to film during the night for hours on end in complete darkness. A single time-lapse sequence of 300 images with a minimum of 30 second exposure means a 10 second clip can take over 2.5 hours film – plus about an hour of setup. Despite the challenges faced throughout this process, that first night in the cave ignited a desire to create something few people have ever seen before and over the next few months would become my biggest filming challenge yet.

And the result of his work? Stunning. Watch the time-lapse below, and click over to Stoked for Saturday to read more about Poste's adventure, both in the caves and in life itself.

Via Smithsonian Magazine

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