Above, a marine fireworm sparkles with fluorescent mucus.
The ebulliently luminous excretions of the worm were found in the study to persist very well in waters with low levels of oxygen.
One potential drawback of the photoprotein is that water temperatures higher than those of the worms' tropical habitats cause the light show to end prematurely.
In addition to honing in on its chemical components, the Scripps scientists were also able to produce the fireworms' luminous mucus in a lab for the first time. No word yet on if this portion of the research will be nominated for an Ig Nobel Prize.
Photograph by Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Institution of Oceanography