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Researchers unveil rich world of fish biofluorescence
Date:1/9/2014

to how animals use bioluminescence, such as to find mates and to camouflage."

The researchers' investigations into fish biofluorescence began with a serendipitous observation of green eel fluorescence off of Little Cayman Island as Sparks and Gruber were imaging coral biofluorescence for an exhibit for the traveling American Museum of Natural History exhibition Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence.

To further explore this phenomenon, Sparks, Gruber, and researchers from the John B. Pierce Laboratory of Yale University, the University of Kansas, and the University of Haifa, Israel, along with professional photographers and videographers, embarked on four additional high-tech expeditions to tropical waters off of the Exumas in the Bahamas and the Solomon Islands. During night dives, the team stimulated biofluorescence in the fish with high-intensity blue light arrays housed in watertight cases. The resulting underwater light show is invisible to the human eye. To record this activity, the researchers used custom-built underwater cameras with yellow filters, which block out the blue light, as well as yellow head visors that allow them to see the biofluorescent glow while swimming on the reef.

The most recent expedition was The Explore21 Solomon Islands Expedition, the first trip under a new Museum initiative that supports exploratory fieldwork that is multidisciplinary and heavily integrated with emerging technologies. From the research vessel Alucia the scientists conducted technical scuba dives and descended in a three-person submersible to examine deep coral reef biofluorescence down to 1,000 meters. They also submitted the scientific paper while aboard.

These expeditions revealed a zoo of biofluorescent fishesfrom both cartilaginous (e.g. sharks and rays) and bony (e.g. eels and lizardfishes) lineagesespecially among cryptically patterned, well-camouflaged species living in coral reefs. By imaging and collecting specime
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Contact: Kendra Snyder
ksnyder@amnh.org
212-496-3419
American Museum of Natural History
Source:Eurekalert  

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