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The Glowing Sea
Chemical Reaction!
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Common Blackdevil, a ceratioid anglerfish
Melanocetus johnsonii
© Edie Widder HBOI

The Glowing Sea

Bioluminescent animals are rare on land. The sea, however, is full of them. Almost 90% of the animals that inhabit the twilight depths of the ocean (200-1000 meters) are bioluminescent.

Bioluminescence is used to:

Bioluminescent Squid — Squid are sea mollusks. Some are bioluminescent. When attacked, one type of squid squirts a cloud of bioluminescent chemicals. Hidden by the glow, the squid makes its escape.

Bermuda Fireworms — Bermuda Fireworms are found throughout the world's oceans. Like many bioluminescent creatures, fire worms use light to attract mates.

Anglerfish — Most anglerfish live at depths below 1,000 meters in the ocean. They are not streamlined, have huge mouths, and expandable stomachs. Instead of using energy to find food, the female anglerfish dangles a glowing lure at the end of an appendage she uses as a fishing rod. The glowing bait attracts small fish and shrimp to her mouth.

Krill — Krill, a group of small shrimp-like crustaceans, feed on plankton. In the ocean where there is no place to hide, there is safety in numbers. Krill will gather by the millions, confusing their predators in a swirling glowing mass. To stay in their protective swarm, krill signal each other with their lights.


Lights Alive! | Kids' Habitat

©  San Diego Natural History Museum