Science Interviews

Interview

Tue, 7th Feb 2012

Critter of the Month - Stoplight fish

Edie Widder, Ocean Conservation and Research Association

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Green grass and grazers

Malacosteus nigerThere is this wonderful deep sea fish. It’s not very common so it doesn’t really have a common name, but sometimes it is referred to as the stop light fish. And it has light organs under its eye like a lot of deep sea fish to help it see in the dark.

But in most deep sea fish that have these headlights they’re blue because if you have ever opened your eyes under water everything looks blue because blue is the color that travels furthest in sea water, other colors are absorbed. So this fish has a blue light organ. And like most fish it can see blue light, but it also has a red light organ and most fish can’t see red light but this fish can.

So, it uses its bioluminescence like a sniper scope. This fish was actually the inspiration for the camera system called “The Eye in the Sea” that I developed to be able to observe unobtrusively in the deep ocean.

So, if I were going to come back as a deep sea animal I want to come back as thisEdie Widder fish. You could swim around in the ocean and observe life in the ocean, but be unseen, be unobtrusive.

And, I just think that that’s the most amazing adaptation, to be able to sneak up on other animals. Of course it has to get pretty close because the red light doesn’t travel very far. But still, it can sneak up very close to other animals, see them, and not be seen.

Find out more

ORCA

Malacosteus niger at Fishbase

Multimedia

Subscribe Free

Related Content

Not working please enable javascript
Wellcome Trust
Genetics Society
Powered by UKfast
ipDTL
STFC