Published May 6, 2010
The mysteries of why and how many animals in the deep sea emit light, known as bioluminescence, continue to puzzle scientists studying the evolution of this natural glow.
© 2010 National Geographic, video courtesy Edith Widder
There is a lot that isn’t known about life in the deep sea.
And biologist Edith Widder says if you dive deep, “turn out the lights” and you’ll see even more that still needs to be explored and studied
While it’s rare for land-dwelling animals to do so, Widder estimates that up to 90-percent of animals living in the open ocean make light, known as bioluminescence. And it makes for some impressive displays for the human eye.
Jellyfish…… pelagic worms…. A black dragon fish… are just a few creatures of the deep that make light.
This display is from a deep-sea shrimp, spewing bioluminescent chemicals out of its mouth.
And these luminescent particles were released by a comb jelly.
These emissions and displays could be to ward of predators, find food, or attract mates.
Widder, founder of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, writes about new understandings about bioluminescence, and how it evolved in the May 7th issue of Science magazine.
How to Feed Our Growing Planet
National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.
The Innovators Project
Meet some of science's most important movers and shakers—from past and present.
Latest News Video
Mazes are a powerful tool for neuroscientists trying to figure out the brain and help us learn to grapple with the unexpected.