Marine Biology

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 441–446 | Cite as

Spectral composition of bioluminescence of epipelagic organisms from the Sargasso Sea

  • M. I. Latz
  • T. M. Frank
  • J. F. Case


The spectral characteristics of single identified epipelagic sources of bioluminescence from the western Sargasso Sea were measured with an optical multichannel analyzer (OMA) system during the April, 1985, Biowatt cruise. The emission spectra of specimens representing 45 species from 8 phyla were measured. Peak bioluminescence emissions typically occurred between 440 and 500 nm, in the blue region of the visible spectrum. Three exceptions involved emission in the green, yellow, and red spectral regions. Intraspectific variability in spectra, was noted in several species. One shrimp species exhibited two modes of light emission, each with different emission spectra. Other cases involved dynamic color shifts of 10 to 14 nm; the source of the spectral variability is unknown, but may involve optical filtering or differences in the color of luminescence from multiple sites of light emission. Measurements from independent samples of unsorted plankton revealed different spectral distributions. This suggests that the spectral emissions of bioluminescence in the upper water column will vary, based on species assemblage.


Emission Spectrum Spectral Region Light Emission Multiple Site Visible Spectrum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Alvariño, A. (In press). Pandea cybeles a new medusa from the Sargasso Sea (Coelenterata, Anthomedusa, Pandeidae). Proc. biol. Soc. Wash.Google Scholar
  2. Anctil, M. (1974). Prospects in the study of interrelationships between vision and bioluminescence. In: Ali, M. A. (ed.) Vision in fishes. Plenum Press, New York, p. 657–671Google Scholar
  3. Biggley, W. H., Napora, T. A., Swift, E. (1981). The color of bioluminescent secretions from decapod prawns in the genera Oplophorus and Systellaspis (Caridea). In: Nealson, K. H. (ed.) Bioluminescence current perspectives. Burgess Publishing Co., Minneapolis, p. 66–71Google Scholar
  4. Clarke, W. D. (1963). Function of bioluminescence in mesopelagic organisms. Nature, Lond. 198: 1244–1246Google Scholar
  5. Dales, R. P. (1971). Bioluminescence in pelagic polychaetes. J. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 28: 1487–1489Google Scholar
  6. David, C. N., Conover, R. J. (1961). Preliminary investigation on the physiology and ecology of luminescence in the copepod, Metridia lucens. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 121: 92–107Google Scholar
  7. Deevey, G. B. (1971). The annual cycle in quantity and composition of the zooplankton of the Sargasso Sea off Bermuda. I. The upper 500 m. Limnol. Oceanogr. 16: 319–240Google Scholar
  8. Dennell, R. (1955). Observations on the luminescence of bathypelagic Crustacea of the Bermuda area. J. Linn. Soc. 42: 393–406Google Scholar
  9. Denton, E. J., Warren, F. J. (1957). The photosensitive pigments in the retinae of deep-sea fish. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 36: 651–662Google Scholar
  10. Harvey, E. N.. (1952). Bioluminescence. Academic Press. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Herring, P. J. (1976). Bioluminescence in decapod Crustacea. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 56: 1029–1047Google Scholar
  12. Herring, P. J. (1977). Luminescence in cephalopods and fish. Symp. zool. Soc. Lond. 38: 127–159Google Scholar
  13. Herring, P. J. (1983). The spectral characteristics of luminous marine organisms. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. (Ser. B) 220: 183–217Google Scholar
  14. Herring, P. J., Locket, N. (1978). The luminescence and photophores of euphausiid erustaceans. J. Zool., Lond 186: 431–462Google Scholar
  15. Herring, P. J., Morin, J. G. (1978). Bioluminescence in fishes. In: Herring, P. J. (ed.) Bioluminescence in action. Academic Press, London, p. 273–329Google Scholar
  16. Jerlov, N. G. (1968). Optical oceanography. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  17. Kampa, E. M., Boden, B. P. (1956). Light generation in a sonicscattering layer. Deep-Sea Res 4: 73–92Google Scholar
  18. Lapota, D., Losee, J. R. (1984). Observations of bioluminescence in marine plankton from the Sea of Cortez. J. exp. mar. biol. Ecol. 77: 209–240Google Scholar
  19. Latz, M. I., Frank, T. M., Case, J. F., Swift, E., Bidigare, R. R. (1987). Bioluminescence of colonial Radiolaria in the western Sargasso Sea. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 109: 25–38Google Scholar
  20. Losee, L. R., Lapota, D. (1981). Bioluminescence measurements in the Atlantic and Pacific. In: Nealson, K. H. (ed.) Bioluminescence current perspectives. Burgess Publishing Co., Minneapolis, p. 143–152Google Scholar
  21. Markert, R. E., Markert, B. J., Vertrees, N. J. (1961). Lunar periodicity in spawning and luminescence in Odontosyllis enopla. Ecology 42: 414–415Google Scholar
  22. Marra, J., Bidigare, R., Buskey, E., Case, J. F., Dickey, T., Kiefer, D., Iturriaga, R., Latz, M. I., Pak, H., Perry, M. J., Smith, R., Swift, E. (In preparation). Bioluminescence and optical variability in the sea. I. An overview to Biowatt I (1975)Google Scholar
  23. Nicol, J. A. C. (1978). Bioluminescence and vision. In: Herring, P. J. (ed.) Bioluminescence in action. Academic Press, London, p. 367–398Google Scholar
  24. O'Day, W. T. (1973). Luminescent silhouetting in stomiatoid fishes. Contr. Sci. 246: 1–8Google Scholar
  25. O'Day, W. T., Fernandez., H. R. (1974). Aristostomias scintillans (Malacosteidae): a deep-sea fish with visual pigments apparently adapted to its own bioluminescence. Vision Res. 14: 545–550Google Scholar
  26. Ondercin, D. G., Fuechsel, P. G. (1986). Bio-optical measurements in the Sargasso Sea. EOS Trans. Am. geophys. Un. 67 (44), p. 969Google Scholar
  27. Swanberg, N. R. (1983). The trophic role of colonial Radiolaria in oligotrophic oceanic environments Limnol. Oceanogr. 28: 655–666Google Scholar
  28. Swift, E., Biggley, W., Napora, T. (1977). The bioluminescence emission spectra of Pyrosoma antlanticum, P. spinosum (Tunicata), Euphausia tenera (Crustacea) and Gonostoma sp. (Pisces). J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 57: 817–823Google Scholar
  29. Swift, E., Biggley, W. H., Verity, P. G., Brown, D. T. (1983). Zooplankton are major sources of epipelagic bioluminescence in the southern Sargasso Sea. Bull. mar. Sci. 33: 855–863Google Scholar
  30. Tsuji, F. I., Lynch, R., Haneda, Y. (1970). Studies on the bioluminescence of the marine ostracod crustacean Cypridina serrata. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab. Woods Hole 139: 386–401Google Scholar
  31. Widder, E. A., Latz, M. I., Case, J. F. (1983). Marine bioluminescence spectra measured with an optical multichannel detection system. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab. Woods Hole 165: 791–810Google Scholar
  32. Widder, E. A., Latz, M. I., Herring, P. J. (1986). Temporal shifts in bioluminescence emission spectra, from the deep-sea fish, Searsia koefoed. Photochem. Photobiol. 44: 97–101Google Scholar
  33. Widder, E. A., Latz, M. I., Herring, P. J., Case, J. F. (1984). Far red bioluminescence from two deep-sea fishes. Science, N.Y. 225: 512–514Google Scholar
  34. Wilkens, L. A., Wolken, J. J. (1981). Electroretinograms from Odontosyllis enopla (Polychaeta; Syllidae): initial observations on the visual system of the bioluminescent fireworm of Bermuda. Mar. Behav. Physiol. 8: 55–66Google Scholar
  35. Young, R. E. (1981). Color of bioluminescence in pelagic organisms. In: Nealson, K. H. (ed.). Bioluminescence current perspectives. Burgess Publishing Co., Minneapolis, p. 72–81Google Scholar
  36. Young, R. E. (1983). Oceanic bioluminescence: an overview of general functions. Bull. mar. Sci. 33: 829–845Google Scholar
  37. Young, R. E., Arnold, J. M. (1982). The functional morphology of a ventral photophore from the mesopelagic squid, Abralia trigonurd Malacologia 23: 135–153Google Scholar
  38. Young, R. E., Mencher, F. M. (1980). Bioluminescence in mesopelagic squids: diel color change, during counterillumination Science, N.Y. 208: 1286–1288Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. I. Latz
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. M. Frank
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. F. Case
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

Personalised recommendations