Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Tiny Fish Use Bacteria to Glow in the Dark | National Geographic

Tiny Fish Use Bacteria to Glow in the Dark | National Geographic

(calming music) – I was in the Solomon Islands on a National Geographic
expedition. We were working in a shallow reef and
we had a big blue light that we were filming fluorescent corals. One of the safety
divers, Brendan Phillips, came up to me and just
started tugging on my camera and basically just gave me the message, you know, follow me. So I turn off my lights, I followed him for several hundred meters in the dark. Suddenly, I see why he pulled me there. There are literally thousands of blue, blinking bioluminescent lights. And they were coming together,
and they were joining, and there would be circles of them, and it was almost like
a blue, bioluminescent brick road just descending
down the reef, making all these shapes. It’s
the closest thing I’ve ever had to an Avatar moment. This is the largest
aggregation of Flashlight Fish that I believe humans
have ever come across. These animals, they don’t
even come out when the moon is out. They’re
so sensitive to light. Because they’re so easily
gobbled up by a bigger predator. So it has this subocular
bioluminescent organ under its eye, and it
grows, like a garden, these bioluminescent bacteria. And it grows them in
these tubes and it even projects the light outward.
It’s even grown this vasculature to feed,
to pump oxygen, to keep these bioluminescent
bacteria glowing bright. One thing that they do is
when they’re actually eating, they will keep their light
on so they can see the food. So they’re very visual creatures. And they’re using their light to feed. But when they’re not
feeding, they’re using their light to be able
to move in a school. A quarter of all fish species, some time in their life, they school. And there’s all kinds of
benefits to schooling. There’s safety in numbers,
and it makes it harder for a predator to really
zone in on one specific fish. What’s unique about these animals is the relationship they have
with this bioluminescent bacteria that they harvest in their eye. Only nine species have this ability. We do know that they do
something called a blink and run. When they want to evade
a predator, they will start swimming in one direction, blink, and then immediately turn
in the other direction. So a predator trying to follow
in the dark will lose it. Recording this and
proving this opens up the possibility that the deep sea is filled with billions of
bioluminescent schooling fish and us humans have just not seen this yet, because we’re not in the deep sea with all our lights off.

72 comments on “Tiny Fish Use Bacteria to Glow in the Dark | National Geographic

  1. Very rare fishes under the Sea…we need to appreciate the ocean drivers and NGC for capturing this kind of videography..

  2. São os pirilampos do oceano?? Fantástico…e não sabia mas fiquei a saber que através de uma bactéria estes peixes podem imitar luz na escuridão!! Só mesmo a Nat Geo para surpreender!!

  3. So can anyone please explain how they get the bacteria to produce light when they want it to. Like how do they blink the light basically?

  4. Go to Vhadoo Islands Maldives it's blue blue blue on the beaches for miles. Look at the YOUTUBE video. Type in Vhadoo Islands Glowing beach.


  5. Scientists have found a new explanation for a behavior they witnessed in the largest school of glowing fish ever seen. To learn more, you can read on here:

  6. I had an Avatar moment once. I was trying to mine some unobtainium and all these little blue people were mad I bulldozed their mother tree.

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