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Bioluminescent Marine Life - Prevalent in the Ocean Depths

Amita Vadlamudi

For more than three decades, Amita Vadlamudi served as an information technology professional with proficiency in coding and systems maintenance and support. Outside of work, Amita Vadlamudi maintains an interest in climate and weather, as well ocean life and marine biology.

A recent New York Times article brought focus to the full scope of deep-sea dwellers that generate their own light through bioluminescence. First discovered in 1932 by William Beebe through the use of an early deepwater submersible, these creatures present a display of glowing and shimmering lights as much as two miles below the surface. Research in the subsequent eight decades has discovered that bioluminescent fish use light for many of the same reasons that surface animals use sound, such as luring prey, misleading and stunning predators, and attracting mates.

Research performed by Steven H. D. Haddock of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has uncovered more than 500 types of bioluminescent fish. The result of a comprehensive collating of the studies has revealed that 76 percent of deep sea life generates its own light. This well-established biological feature reflects an evolutionary process that began hundreds of millions of years ago. By contrast, terrestrial bioluminescence evolved much later and with less prevalence, and is limited to certain creatures such as millipedes and fireflies.

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