Ocean fish with a light

A green biofluorescent chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer)A green biofluorescent chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer)

Researchers discovered a rich diversity of fluorescent patterns and colors in marine fishes, as exemplified here: B) ray (Urobatis jamaicensis), C) sole (Soleichthys heterorhinos), H) false moray eel (Kaupichthys brachychirus), I) Chlopsidae (Kaupichthys nuchalis), J) pipefish (Corythoichthys haematopterus), K) sand stargazer (Gillellus uranidea). Pictured here are: D) flathead (Cociella hutchinsi), E) lizardfish (Saurida gracilis), F) frogfish (Antennarius maculatus), L) goby (Eviota sp.), M) Gobiidae (Eviota atriventris), N) surgeonfish (Acanthurus coeruleus, larval) A red fluorescing scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis) perched on red fluorescing algae at night in the Solomon Islands. w.

Glowing fish


  • When hit with special blue light, 180 species of fish light up
  • Researchers think it may play a role in mating or in communication
  • Scientists discovered a glowing green eel when looking at reefs for biofluorescence
  • Some fish have yellow filters in their eyes, which can help them see the light show

(CNN) -- There is a light show in the ocean that you can't see, but many fish can. There's quite a display of neon greens, reds, and oranges going on underneath the surface.

Still, the discovery of what is hidden from human eyes -- biofluorescence in 180 species of fish -- brings up many questions for researchers.

Do fish use it to communicate with others? Do they use it to mate? What is its function?

Biofluorescence occurs when an organism absorbs blue light, transforms it and emits it as another color.

A team of researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and other scientific organizations published a study Wednesday in the online journal PLOS ONE, reporting the findings of the first in-depth look at biofluorescence in fish.

"We've long known about biofluorescence underwater in organisms like corals, jellyfish, and even in land animals like butterflies and parrots, " said the study's co-author, John Sparks, who is a curator in the Museum's Department of Ichthyology.

He said the team stumbled on an eel that glowed green while he and a partner were studying a reef in the Cayman Islands. The discovery in a photograph of the eel lighting up underneath the blue lights they used led them to make four more trips in different parts of the world to get a closer look at the glow show.

The expeditions to the Bahamas in the Caribbean and Solomon Islands in the Pacific revealed a variety of fish living around coral reefs -- including sharks, rays, eels and lizerdfishes -- that exhibited bioflourescence. s

"Many shallow reef inhabitants and fish have the capabilities to detect fluorescent light and may be using biofluorescence in similar fashions to how animals use bioluminescence, such as to find mates and to camouflage, " Sparks suggested, while adding the reasons will need further study.

Environmentally conscientious fish shopping

2010-01-12 09:59:05 by BiscuitCity

• Go with the green!
Carry a seafood wallet card, a guide to which fish species get the "green light" as good choices. These cards are great references when buying seafood at grocery stores and restaurants, and are available for free from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program.
• Good for you, good for your local economy.
Be a conscious consumer and try to buy local, environmentally responsible seafood as much as possible. This promotes sustainable management of marine resources, and preserves a way of life for progressive-minded farmers and fishermen in your region

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