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Block of the Week: Sea Lantern

Helps us see the sea monsters attacking us! Er, great?

It's dark at the bottom of the ocean. Black, cold, and full of unseen dangers. But a handful of Minecrafters, those brave enough to delve deep below the waves, have reported seeing lights in that darkness. Just before they're attacked by spined monsters with a single, enormous eye. Aargh!

Before that aquatic unpleasantness, they're getting a fleeting glimpse of one of the game's newest and most-hazardous-to-obtain blocks. Sea lanterns were first introduced to players as "something new" in an Instagram post from Jeb on 16 May 2014, then added to the game in snapshot 14w25a about a month later. They spawn naturally deep below the surface of oceans, where they provide light to ocean monuments that are generated there.

How much light? A lot! They're tied for the brightest light in the game. Sea lanterns emit a light level of 15, which is the same as glowstone, redstone lamps, beacons and jack o'lanterns. They'll break when harvested with most tools, dropping 2-3 prismarine crystals that can be used alongside prismarine shards to craft a new lantern.

A more efficient way to gather sea lanterns in larger quantities is to take a tool enchanted with silk touch below the waves with you. And while you're doing some enchanting, allow me to recommend adding aqua affinity to the tool for fast mining, and taking along a helmet with respiration and a few potions of night vision for when you smash the last lantern and darkness descends.

The sea lantern's remarkable undersea glowiness was probably inspired by glowing lights that people have found at the bottom of Earth's deep oceans. There are two main sources of light in the depths - the first is the hot springs found along the ridges that run along the centre of the Earth's oceans, where new crust is formed. Here, enough of the heat of our planet's core warms plumes of seawater to 350C or more, creating light that's very dim but still bright enough for life to survive. In fact, some people believe that these undersea vents may have been the location of the first spark of life on Earth. Have you thanked the ocean for giving you life yet? AND WHY NOT???

The second is lifeforms that create light in their own bodies. The deep sea is packed with creatures glowing in the inky blackness - about 80 to 90 percent of the life in the deep sea is thought to be bioluminescent. The light has many uses - from defence, to attracting a mate, to looking really cool, to hunting for food. Here are eight beautiful examples.

Minecraft's oceanic life is just as beautiful (in its own way), but substantially more dangerous. So the next time you're hunting through the oceans looking for the bright lights of an ocean monument, make sure you're well-defended! Maybe dress up in a shark costume so that the other sea-creatures just assume you're meant to be there? No. That's a stupid idea.

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere

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