PHOTOS: Light Shed on Glowing, Gloppy Green Worms

PHOTOS: Light Shed on Glowing, Gloppy Green Worms
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Bioluminescent marine fireworms are seen up close.

Scientists Deheyn and Latz collected hundreds of specimens of the seafloor-dwelling creature from San Diego's Mission Bay for their study, published in April in the journal Invertebrate Biology.

One key piece of their research is the flashing behavior observed in youngster marine fireworms. It had been thought previously that the worms only luminesced as part of their reproductive frenzies, or "swarming," so the rebellious blinking behavior of the aquatic adolescents was a pleasant treat for the scientists. They believe it to be a defensive measure, but this hasn't yet been proven.

The particular fluorescence that the worms enjoy was shown in the study to be similar to the glowing systems of jellyfish, a field of research that earned scientist Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory a 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
—Photograph by Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
 
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