Mushrooms are such fascinating organisms with so many fantastic qualities and uses. But did you know that they can also glow in the dark? Singapore is home to a wide variety of bioluminescent fungi. However, this naturally occurring phenomenon usually takes place seasonally, and finding a large cluster of mushrooms with bright bioluminescence is uncommon. Still, macro photographer Nicky Bay has managed to capture an entire series of photos featuring the rare glowing fungi. With the help of friends and tips from other enthusiasts in Facebook groups, Bay has been on the hunt for these remarkable sightings for several years and has had much success in his endeavor.
“My first encounter was surreal, despite seeing just a few solitary mushrooms,” Bay tells My Modern Met. “The glow was faint initially but when my eyes acclimated to the darkness, it became a bright magical micro umbrella…Now, I'm usually looking out for giant clusters of glowing mushrooms. As the glow would only be at its height within a day after sprouting, getting good photos of them can be rare. The mushrooms typically wilt completely within two or three days, depending on the weather. Hence, getting the opportunity to photograph a large cluster in its best condition is considerably rare and exciting. “
During one experience with a particularly large cluster of bioluminescent mushrooms that had started to wilt even as a new crop of spores had already begun sprouting, Bay referred to the magical sight as “a little galaxy of mushrooms.” It is difficult to imagine how surreal it must be to encounter these little glowing mushrooms in person because, even in photos, they seem almost unreal. Of the over 148,000 known species of fungi, just around 70 are known to exhibit bioluminescence. So, Bay isn’t kidding when he says that kind of experience is pretty rare.
Scroll down to see some of Bay’s incredible images of bioluminescent mushrooms in Singapore. For more information about glowing mushrooms and tips on how you can photograph them yourself, visit his website. You can also find more of his incredible macro photography on his Instagram—just make sure you can handle extremely up-close and detailed pictures of spiders because those are his specialty.