Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sunday at the Beach with Dr. Todd E.A. Larson: The Ostracod

Is there anything more full of wonder than a child at the beach? Underneath the waves is an entire world waiting to be discovered. Join us every Sunday for a day at the beach, and learn more about the aquatic world!

Fish that shoot laser beams? According to this article it's brought about by one of the most spectacular defensive displays of any creature in the ocean.

Actually, it's not the fish that produces this bioluminescence, it's a tiny flat crustacean known as the ostracod. Certain species of ostracods produce luminescent chemicals commonly called "blue sand" or "blue tears" and when eaten by certain fish, like the translucent cardinalfish above, these ostracods release this glowing chemical in order to attract predators so they won't be preyed upon any more. The cardinalfish, sensing how dangerous it would be to be lit up in a totally darkened environment, spits out the ostracod, resulting in the fireworks above.

A typical ostracod.

Another example of the supreme coolness of nature!

To learn more about ostracods, click here.

-- Dr. Todd

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