SUFB 068: Siphonophore Species Uses Red Light in the Deep Sea

Speak Up For Blue Podcast

Since today is Wednesday and a lot of our readers may be struggling through the week, we at SUFB decided to perk everyone up with a shot of deep-sea discoveries. Today, we’re highlighting a new species of siphonophore in the genus Erenna that uses bright red lights on its underside to attract food. It’s bioluminescent behavior was detailed in a 2005 Science article by Steven Haddock and colleagues.

This newly discovered member of the order Siphonorphorae makes a living flashing its predatory light show in the deep sea. This bioluminescence is thought to be a feeding strategy used to attract prey items, like small fish, in an ecosystem devoid of sunlight. While many other deep sea critters utilize bioluminescence (it’s like a 24-hour Avicii concert down there), this is only the second-known organism to utilize red light. Typically, marine organisms use blue light to distract predators, attract mates, or find food. Blue light has a shorter wavelength, and therefore travels further and is more visible in the ocean.

Because red light has a long wavelength, many researchers thought it would not play a significant role in deep sea interactions. However, this species of Erenna’s use of longer wavelength light turns that theory upside down. Perhaps the deep sea is a more vibrant and colorful community than we previously thought. Hopefully these discoveries will spark an international interest in the deep sea and ocean exploration, and SUFB will do our part by continuing to talk about all the amazing discoveries we’ve made beneath the photic zone.

Enjoy the Podcast!

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