The deep has a lot more light than you might think. 

A recent study by Séverine Martini and Steve Haddock, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, found that three-quarters of marine animals in Monterey Bay—from the surface to 4,000 feet deep—are capable of producing their own light. 

According to a statement from MBARI, the study, which was published April 4 in the journal Scientific Reports, "represents the first detailed, quantitative analysis of deep-sea bioluminescence."

Martini and Haddock counted over 350,000 individual animals from videos taken by MBARI's remote operate submersibles, and compiled data for every animal that appeared larger than a centimeter. 

One surprising discovery the study revealed was that the proportion of bioluminescent animals was similar at all depths. However, the type of animals that were bioluminescent—jellies, worms, or tadpole-like animals called larvaceans—changed depending on the depth. 

"I'm not sure people realize how common bioluminescence is," Martini says in the statement. "It's not just a few deep-sea fishes, like the angler fish. It's jellies, worms, squids...all sort of things.

"Given that the deep ocean is the largest habitat on Earth by volume," she continues, "bioluminescence can certainly be said to be a major ecological trait on Earth."


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(1) comment

Marguerite McCurry

Hey David...and all you other marine scientists out there... don't miss the Friday afternoon event May 5 at Hopkins Marine!
--Species Migrations will be discussed Friday, May 5 in the Boatworks auditorium at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University part of the 2017 Steinbeck Festival.
-- A full program and ticket information for “In the Spirit of Ricketts: Species Migrations” at 120 Ocean View Ave., Pacific Grove, are available at: . A $25 ticket covers all Friday afternoon events, including two tours of Ed Ricketts’ Lab on Cannery Row and the Hopkins discussions.
-- In 1942, ’46, ’47, and ’48, Ed Ricketts wrote articles on fluctuating sardine populations in Monterey Bay for the annual Sardine Supplement of the Monterey Herald. To honor his work and friendship with Steinbeck, events Friday of the National Steinbeck Center’s 2017 Steinbeck Festival will be held on Cannery Row and is co- sponsored by the Cannery Row Foundation.
SPEAKERS and discussions will include:
-- 2:00-2:15 p.m.: “Ricketts and Sardines” Susan Shillinglaw, Director of the National Steinbeck Center, discusses the articles that Ricketts wrote in the 1940s for the Monterey Peninsula Herald’s annual “Sardine Edition”
-- 2:15-2:45 p.m.: “Birds and Butterflies, Eels and the Phantom Bottom: Rachel Carson, John James Audubon, and the Power of Nature in Motion.” Author and biographer William Souder addresses Rachel Carson’s 1941 text, Under the Sea Wind, among other explorations of ocean migrations.
-- 2:45-3:15 p.m.: “An ocean of immigrants: what we know about how tiny ocean larvae colonize distant places like Monterey.” Steve Palumbi, Director of Hopkins Marine Station, discusses migrations of ocean larvae.
-- 3:15-3:45 p.m.: Discussion, led by John Pearse, Professor Emeritus, UC Santa Cruz, and Greg Cailliet, Professor Emeritus, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.
-- 4:00-4:30 p.m.: “Migrations in the Deep Ocean.” Bruce Robison, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
-- 4:30-5:00 p.m.: “A Brief History of Global Migration and Worker Health.” Dr. Marc Schenker, UC Davis Department of Public Health. This talk will review the history of global migration, its causes and impact on the health of migrants. At the center of the story will be migrants described in Steinbeck’s books, who exemplified the forces driving migration and the health impacts.
-- 5:00-5:30 p.m: Discussion, led by John Pearse, Professor Emeritus, UC Santa Cruz, and Greg Cailliet, Professor Emeritus, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

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