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Glowing Firefly Squid Beached Along the Japanese Coast

Of all the bioluminescent life forms in the deep sea, there is one tiny creature who’s light show puts all others to shame. This is the firefly squid, sometimes called the sparkling enope squid. Known to science as Watasenia scintillans, it is referred to in Japan as “hotaru-ika”. It is a member of the cephalopod family and is related to many other squid species throughout the world’s oceans. The firefly squid gets its name from the flashing lights that resemble those of a firefly. This squid is famous for the incredible light show that occurs each year off the coast of Japan as millions of these tiny animals gather to spawn.

The firefly squid is a small member of the squid family, growing to a length of only three inches (seven centimeters). The squid is equipped with special light-producing organs called photophores. These photophores are found on many parts of the squid’s body and emit a deep blue light. Large photophores can be found on the tips of the tentacles as well as around the eyes. Thousands of tiny photophores can be found throughout the squid’s body, giving it the ability to emit light along its entire form. The lights can be flashed in unison or alternated in an endless number of animated patterns. These light shows are thought to serve several functions. They can be used to communicate with potential mates or rivals. They may also be used to disguise the squid’s shape and confuse predators, allowing it to escape. The firefly squid is the only member of the squid family that is believed to have color vision. While most cephalopods have only one visual pigment, firefly squid have three. They also have a double-layered retina in the back of the eye. These adaptations for color vision may have evolved to enable firefly squid to distinguish between ambient light and bioluminescence, and to help them decode the patterns of light created by other members of the species.



Notes

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    sparkling enope squid
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