Most people head to the beach to soak in the hot sun or ride the waves, but if you’re not enjoying the beach at night you might be missing something magical. In some parts of the world, you can find sea creatures that glow in the dark. Here are some of the most dazzling.
The comb jelly is something like a translucent walnut floating in the ocean depths. Not only do they emit their own bioluminescent light when scared, but they can also refract light to create a rainbow of colors shining off of moving cilia in their bodies.
Fluorescent, flowering sea anemones might be one of the few bio fluorescent species capable of turning its fluorescent lights off. Researchers have found that by shining a light on the anemone at certain wavelengths the proteins that cause them to light up with shut turn, thus shutting of the light switch.
The enope squid is the firefly of the ocean, which is probably why it’s also referred to as the firefly squid. The tiny, three-inch long squid has a body full of even tinier organs called photophores, which emit a bright blue light that can be see from far stretches away. The squids use the light to attract their prey.
Every once in awhile the tides running along the ocean shore turn an eerie shade of red during the day, then glow blue in the dark. It’s not a sign of the apocalypse, don’t worry. It’s just the result of a congregation of phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum, a type of algae that turns the tides red and blue at night by releasing a chemical when they move.
You might remember the angler fish as the creepy, many-toothed monster that tried to devour Dory and Marlin after drawing them in with it’s bioluminescent light. That light is real, and it’s the result of millions of bioluminescent bacteria lining the lure. It might look cool, but we’re not actually sure seeing it is worth a close encounter.
The glowing sucker octopus holds the Guiness World Record for the title of “most bioluminescent octopus,” which isn’t really saying much when you consider that it’s the only one that glows. It actually has roughly 40 different suckers on each tentacle that glow deep in the ocean’s depths.
There are numerous varieties of marine worms, but only the Bermuda glow worm glows in the dark. They’re actually annelids, and they only mate during the full moon. During this time their whole bodies glow a bright blue in order to attract a mate. When they spin in circles they look like starfish.
Divers who’ve traversed Australia’s Great Coral Reef can probably tell you all about the glowing green coral that resides there. The light comes from the appropriately named green fluorescent protein, or GFP, that scientists believe might one day be able to aid in curing patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.
There are plenty of jellyfish that glow in the dark, but few of them glow so radiantly as the red atolla jellyfish. It isn’t just for looking pretty, either. The atolla shine brightly when clutched in the jaws of a predator in order to draw in an even bigger predator that might help free it.