Weird Science - Glowing Sea Creatures
Find out what's lurking in the deep sea. Bioluminescent creatures of all kinds!
Creatures of the deep sea
It's like something out of a horror flick...
Odd shaped creatures of all shapes and sizes, glowing in the dark. Some elegantly gliding through the water and while others pulsating light as if they are trying to contact aliens from another planet. Even just seeing these in video, it's a mesmerizing and puzzling site to behold.
Only in recent years has the deep sea's glowing community been unveiled - the complexity is mind boggling. It's now come to light (forgive the pun) that over 90% of these creatures glow or in more proper terms, "bioluminescence".
And I guarantee, most of you have never heard of any of these creatures before.
Ready to take trip into the abyss with me? Let's go...
The glowing seas
My first encounter with glowing sea creatures was off the during a research conference on the east coast year ago. (Keep in mind that I'm a mid-west gal, so trips to the coast were rare!)
During some down time late in one evening, we headed out to a pier and sat. Within minutes, we began to see the water start to "tingle" with flashing green lights. Small bioluminescent squid were everywhere, giving us an incredible light show!
Squid are just one of many sea creatures that have the ability to glow. Jelly fish, black dragon fish, tube worms are just a few of the exotic creatures that have bioluminescence. Edith Widder, cofounder and senior scientist of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, estimates that perhaps as many as 90% of the deep sea inhabitants may glow.
Why these creatures pulsate light and/or glow has remained a mystery to scientists. For some, it could be a mechanism for warding off predators, for others a means of attracting mates or maybe even a way to attract food.
Symbiotic glowing relationships
As more research is being done, it's becoming clear that the bioluminescence in some of these amazing creatures may, in some cases, become coming from some "friends" that have hitched a ride. Symbiotic relationships are quite common in the biological world - two organisms living together that are mutually benefiting each other is some way.
This is believed to be true in the case of some bioluminscent squid. They harbor bacteria in their light organ. It is the bacteria, rather the squid itself that creates the glowing light. The bacteria benefit by gaining nutrients that the jelly fish doesn't need and the jelly fish appear to benefit from the bacteria as a means of warding off and keeping any harmful bacteria from colonizing.
Take a deep dive in the comfort of your own home
If you find these creatures fascinating, then take a deep dive! It'll have to be in the comfort of your own home. Access to many of these deep sea creatures can only be enjoyed through technology and research expeditions.
I personally recommend the National Geographic documentary "Aliens of the Deep". It will take you miles below sea level to hydrothermal vents and volcanic hot springs. It's an amazing expedition that is worth watching. It's a great for a family movie night!