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Deep-sea jelly uses glowing red lures to catch fish

this jelly doesn't deploy its tentacles very far. In an environment where fish are rare, it uses deception to attract fish instead of casting a wide net to capture them."

After discovering lures on this new species of siphonophore, Haddock and his coauthors looked at several related species and noticed similar glowing structures. He believes that these structures also serve as lures, but were overlooked or misinterpreted by previous researchers. He explains, "This discovery was a big paradigm shift for us-most jellies were thought to use bioluminescence for defense, but once we saw this, it made us realize that the same thing was happening in other species."

Erenna's glowing red lures may also force scientists to take a new look at the role of red light in the deep sea. Red bioluminescence is extremely rare, and the prevailing view among marine biologists has been that most deep-sea animals cannot detect red light at all. However, because deep-sea fish are so hard to bring to the surface intact, we know very little about their physiology. Haddock's work suggests that some deep-sea fishes may not only see red light, but routinely use it in finding food.


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Contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
kfb@mbari.org
831-775-1835
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
7-Jul-2005


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