VIRTUAL EXPLORATIONS > ARCHIVED EXPLORATIONS > CREEP INTO THE DEEP 2015
Part 2: First Days, Bioluminescence
Guest Contributor: Dr. Tammy Frank, Chief Scientist and Deep-sea Explorer
Posted July 20, 2015:
Once we get aboard the ship, we immediately get to work unpacking our crates and setting up our labs. Setting up my lab was no walk in the park, but I sure am happy to be working with such an amazing lab partner, Sonke Johnsen. We share a workspace. Sonke and I have different kinds and amounts of equipment.
On this trip, we are studying vision and bioluminescence, trying to learn more about animals that live on the ocean floor. Bioluminescence is light or the glow created by animals such as fish, squid, seastars, plankton, deep-sea corals, and many deep-sea jellies.
Some of you might see bioluminescent creatures every night in the summer. Do you have fireflies (or maybe you call them lightening bugs) where you live? I love fireflies. Aren’t they amazing? Fireflies are bioluminescent. When you see a firefly blinking on and off, you’re watching it have a conversation! A firefly uses its glow or light to communicate with other fireflies.
Ocean animals use light to communicate, for camouflage, as a lure, for defense, and as an alarm. In the sea, the light is usually blue. But it can range from nearly violet to green-yellow, and sometimes even be red.
Many animals use bioluminescence in the deep ocean. Scientists like Edie, Sonke, and I have studied bioluminescent animals that live in the middle of the ocean (between the surface and the ocean bottom.) However, little is known about how animals use bioluminescence on the seafloor. That’s what we hope to learn on this research trip. Oh, I better get back on deck, the ROV is about to be deployed.