More Bioluminescence

The Ocean Blog

You may have seen the sparkle of fireflies on a summer’s night. The fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction in their glowing abdomens, a process known as bioluminescence. But did you know...
“Upon returning from the reef after a night dive, I swam toward a bright reflection and came eye-to-eye with this beautiful, curious squid," said Charles Viggers, a Nature's Best photographer. Squids...
The submersible Alvin carries scientists to the deep ocean, where they encounter amazing creatures and views of deep ocean life. Explore more in the Deep Ocean Exploration section .
The fish at left stands out against the lighter waters above. At right the same fish—now with bioluminescent structures on its underside lit—blends in. Many deep sea creatures have evolved this...
The smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark ( Etmopterus perryi ) is smaller than a human hand. It's rarely seen and little is known about it, having only been observed a few times off the northern tip...
The Census of Marine Life - a ten-year effort by scientists from around the world to answer the age-old question, “What lives in the sea?” It was an international effort to asses the diversity,...
Scientists describe the amazing bioluminescent creatures they encounter as they descend into the deep--siphonophores, ctenophores, and viperfish--in this Smithsonian/History Channel "Deep Ocean...
Glowing photophores are visible on this midwater squid ( Abralia veranyi ) viewed from below at low light levels. We think of light as a way to see in the dark. But many species use it to help them...
This transparent cockatoo squid ( Leachia sp.), also known as a glass squid, lives in the depths of the ocean and has many adaptations to help it survive there. It retains ammonia solutions inside...
The long barbel on the chin of this dragonfish ( Stomias boa ) has a glowing tip that may attract prey. With its large mouth and sharp, curved teeth, the fish makes quick work of any prey that...
This ctenophore (a stingless jellyfish-like animal) is native to the east coast of North and South America. In 1982, it was discovered in the Black Sea, where it was transported by ballast water . It...
Artist Shih Chieh Huang spent a good part of 2007 exploring specimens of deep-ocean animals found in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History . He was a Smithsonian Artist Research...
“It’s a little appreciated fact that most of the animals in our ocean make light,” says Edie Widder, biologist and deep sea explorer at ORCA. In this TED talk, she shows incredible film and photos...
This copepod ( Gaussia princeps ) was collected deeper than 1000 meters in the Sargasso Sea by Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ) researchers in April 2006, as part of the 10-year Census of Marine...
The mauve stinger’s ( Pelagia noctiluca ) name in German means “night light,” referring to the jelly’s reddish coloring and its bioluminescence, the display of light by a living creature. Unlike a...
Artist Shih Chieh Huang creates work using plastic bags, household objects, computer cooling fans, LED lights, and other assorted materials. His 2011 solo exhibition, " The Bright Beneath: The...
Artist Shih Chieh Huang assembling one of his installations. Huang was a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow in 2007 and spent his time studying bioluminescent marine animals . That research has...
Watch as barnacles feed on bioluminescent dinoflagellates. Barnacles are crustaceans (like crabs, shrimps and lobsters) that secrete their shells for protection while living attached to things like...
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