The Weird, Wonderful World of Bioluminescence

“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 she took of animals in the open ocean making their own light, called bioluminescence, and explains many reasons why they do so. Some predatory fish have glowing lures dangling in front of their mouths to attract small fish. Small single-celled algae, called dinoflagellates, light up as a burglar alarm to attract attention to their predators when they are under attack. Bigger animals use this trick too, such as the black dragonfish. A deep sea shrimp (the fire shooter) will release glowing bioluminescent fluid to distract its predator, just like a squid shoots out ink. See more pictures of bioluminescent animals and watch a video of encounters with bioluminescent creatures.

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