Lights in the Dark

Galiteuthis. Credit: MBARI

In the past three days, two of the blogs we visit have shared a total of three posts concerning animals that live in the deep sea, where light is scarce. Ed Yong has written for NatGeo’s blog about a “squid that has glowing eyeshadow that acts as an invisibility cloak,” as well as the genetic branches and diversity of species exhibiting bioluminescence; Matt Miller wrote for The Nature Conservancy’s blog about a new book by photographer Danté Fenolio called Life in the Dark: Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth. Below, a quick excerpt from each, starting with the squid:

The oceans of the world are home to animals that render themselves invisible with glowing eyeshadow.

They’re called glass squid and, as their name suggests, they are largely transparent. They’d be impossible to see in the darkness of the open ocean were it not for their eyes—the only obviously opaque parts of their bodies.

Silver Hatchetfish (Argyropelecus). Credit: Leo Smith

Read the rest of that article here. Now for the history of bioluminescent fish:

During the Cretaceous period, while flowers and tyrant dinosaurs were spreading over the land, and pterosaurs and birds were taking over the skies, in the oceans, fish were starting to glow.

Today, some 1,500 fish species are bioluminescent—able to make their own light. They have luminous fishing lures coming out of their heads, glowing stripes on their flanks, bright goatees dangling from their chins, flashing headlamps beneath their eyes, or radiant bellies that cancel out their silhouettes to predators watching from below.

Firefishes live at depths down to 230-290 feet and also exhibit striking coloration. Photo © Danté Fenolio

Finish that post here, and read on for Miller’s opinion about Life in the Dark:

Far beyond our comfort zone, many of the world’s most fascinating creatures dwell. We don’t think about them or dream about them because we don’t see them. And often, we literally can’t see them. They live in the dark.

These often-fantastical creatures are the subject of Danté Fenolio’s magnificent Life in the Dark: Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

Fenolio – a zoologist, biologist and wildlife photographer – has captured images of wildlife that live in the darkest places on the planet, including the deep sea, caves, termite mounds and even inside other animals. Many of these creatures have never been photographed before.

Visit Cool Green Science for the rest of that article.

 

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