More Bioluminescence

The Ocean Blog

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...
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 yellow bioluminescent ring on this female octopus ( Bolitaena pygmaea ) may attract mates. Bioluminescence is an important adaptation that helps many deep sea animals survive in their dark world...
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...
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...
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 .
“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...
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...
Claws, spines, spikes, tentacles, and fangs. Aliens, monsters, and ghostly apparitions glowing in the night. Marine life forms have some of the best looks for Halloween—no costumes needed. From...
This lanternfish ( Diaphus sp .), found in the Red Sea, has light-producing photophores along its ventral surface (belly), and a nasal light organ that acts like a headlight. Hear scientists tell...
Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are both beautiful—the jellyfish with their pulsating bells and long, trailing...
Dr. Edie Widder spoke at the National Museum of Natural History as a part of the Changing Tides Lecture Series and discussed her work on underwater light: light chemically produced by animals through...
What does a bioluminescent creature that lives more than two miles below the surface of the ocean and a glow stick have in common? More than you think. In a unique spin on an art technique called "...
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...
The ROV Hyper Dolphin caught this deep-sea jelly (Atolla wyvillei) on film east of Izu-Oshina Island, Japan. When attacked, it uses bioluminescence to "scream" for help—an amazing light show known as...
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,...
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...
“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...
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