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Bioflourescent Fish Discovered To Have Brilliant Glows In The Right Light

Bioflourescent fish are typically mottled and brown, but glow in neons!

bioflourescent fish

Bioflourescent fish image by John S. Sparks

More than 180 species of biofluorescent fish have been discovered namely in tropical coral reefs.  These bioflourescent fish glow in blues, reds, oranges and greens.  The glow of these bioflourescent fish can occur in various different patterns, some throughout their bodies.

On an odd note, reef fish are typically mottled and brown.

These bioflourescent fish aren’t the same as fish who glow with bioluminescence.  Reef fish do not produce their own light as bioluminescent fish do.  Bioluminescence is the emission of a “cold light” that consists of less than 20 percent thermal radiation.  Bioluminescence is a form of chemiluminescence in which light energy is released by a chemical reaction.

“Biofluorescence is a whole different process. Biofluorescent animals make a protein that absorbs light, transforms it and then re-emits it as a different color, “ states John Sparks, author of a new paper published Wednesday in PLOS ONE concerning bioflourescent fish.

The glow from these bioflourescent fish is reportedly difficult to spot, unlike their bioluminescent rivals.  John Sparks and his co-author David Gruber used blue lights designed specifically for seeking out these bioflourescent fish.  They also used light filters along with their masks in order to spot the reef fish more easily.

Steve Haddock, a scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute was not impressed with the study.  “If you look at humans under a black light, our skin glows, our eyes glow, our teeth glow — there are a lot of natural compounds out there that can fluoresce.  In the case of the paper it is hard to tell what are actual fluorescent structures and what is just a side effect of the fishes’ skin and scales. It opens up an area where we need to do more research and ask more questions,” he said.

John Sparks states that there is much more research to be done.  After all, there are many fish in the sea!

Interested in searching out bioflourescent fish?  Try diving with a blue light.

Bioflourescent fish video courtesy of YouTube

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