September 22, 2008--
The reef fish Enneapterygius pusillus
has found a creative way to communicate with other fish
in a world dominated by blues and greens: The fish literally glows red.
At least 32 species of reef fish that live at depths below 33 feet (10 meters) possess this unique method of signaling, researchers said in a September 2008 study.
Because the color red has a longer wavelength and fish are better attuned to seeing colors with shorter wavelengths (such as green and blue), scientists had thought red was irrelevant to fish.
"Marine fish are generally assumed not to see or use red light, with the exception of some deep-sea fish," lead researcher Nico Michiels of the University of Tuebingen in Germany said in an email.
"Our discovery shows that there is a lot of red fluorescence that is very indicative of an active role of red in fish communication."
(See photo: "Blind Sea Creature Hunts With Light"
[July 8, 2005)
The study appeared recently in the journal BMC Ecology
Photographs by Michiels et al./BMC Ecology 2008