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Bioluminescence. Ms. Springstroh /Marine Biology. Sources:

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Ms. Springstroh/Marine Biology


what is bioluminescence
What is bioluminescence?
  • A chemical reaction in some fishes, squids, octopuses, and other animals of the deep sea, which produces light. Some fungi & insects do this as well.
difference between incandescence and luminescence
Difference between incandescence and luminescence
  • Incandescence
    • Involves a light bulb
    • So much heat is produced that light is emitted
    • Not very efficient (waste a lot of heat energy)
  • Luminescence
    • Chemical compounds mix together to produce a glow
    • Example: what happens in a glow stick


  • Luminescence
what exactly produces the light in bioluminescence
What exactly produces the light in bioluminescence?
  • Chemicals (the luciferin pigment and the luciferase enzyme) found within the animal and which react with oxygen
  • Often bacteria– which have a symbiotic (close) relationship with the animal– will be the ones producing the light
where do bioluminescent marine organisms live
Where do bioluminescent marine organisms live?
  • In the twilight/disphotic(poorly lit) zone (600 ft – 3300 ft deep)
quick question
Quick Question

How might these two facts be related?

  • Most marine organisms cannot see colors other than blue.
  • The sunlight which reaches the disphotic zone is blueish/green.
  • Almost all marine bioluminescence is blueish/green.
twilight disphotic zone
Twilight/Disphotic Zone
  • Hardly any sunlight reaches this zone
    • The sunlight that does reach this zone is blueish/green in color
  • Bioluminescent marine organisms produce mostly blueish/green light
    • Helps them blend in with the little bit of sunlight that does reach this part of the ocean
why do some animals make light
Why do some animals make light?
  • Some species of plankton produce light b/c they are disturbed by a passing ship, tides, storms, and other swimming marine life
    • Burglar alarm theory
      • Small fish feeds on plankton plankton emit light (“burglar alarm”) light attracts larger fish to the area  larger fish eat the small fish, & plankton are safe
why do some animals make light1
Why do some animals make light?
  • Blind predators
  • Countershading
    • In dark parts of ocean:
      • Hard to see below you
      • Easy to see silhouette of what’s above you
      • Producing light on underside of body helps an organisms blend in with light from above
  • Communication to find a mate
  • Spotlight for locating food
  • Attract/lure prey
questions to think about
Questions to think about
  • Define bioluminescence.
  • Who produces bioluminescence?
  • What is countershading?
  • What is the evolutionary advantage of bioluminescence?