Luminescence Deep Under the Waves

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Scenes and music are from the movie "Deep Blue", rearranged to make this little video, which shows mostly luminescent creatures that are living in the deep sea. These animals are bioluminescent, but to see that, you'd have to turn the lights out, and then they'd glow a bluish-white. However, these animals glow with rainbow colors due to diffraction by their bodies of the light that is being shown onto them for the purposes of photography. Imagine: we know more about the moon than we know about the deep sea! [1:15]

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WOW. That reminds me of the movie the "The Abyss", except these animals are way cooler than anything Hollywood could cook up. This diversity of life never ceases to astound me. It still boggles my mind that we know so little about the oceans and yet continue to do them so great a harm.

Bit o pedantry: None of those animals is a classical "jellyfish" (i.e. a scyphozoan cnidarian). The first and fourth are ctenophores, the second a crustacuan (amphipod?), the third a cephalopod mollusk, and the fifth a polychaete annelid.
And I don't think any of them was actually producing any bioluminescence. They were lit for photography.
Still--beautiful clip.

By Sven DiMIlo (not verified) on 13 Feb 2008 #permalink

Following up on the remark about our ignorance of the deep sea, we also know more about some ancient marine habitats through the fossil record where their sedimentary rocks and contained fossils are well exposed than we know about the present deep sea. And where the rocks have a significant dip, one can investigate the whole sedimentary pile by walking horizontally by the section.

By biosparite (not verified) on 13 Feb 2008 #permalink

i was using the photographer's comments, thus "jellyfish" slipped through. but i went back and changed that.

Here is one for the marine biologists:

I once saw a tank of jellyfish on display, all of the same species, and to my ability to tell all identical. Each one had at its center four rings of less-transparent material, arranged edge to edge. I cant find any exactly like it on image search, but this is close:

The rings in the one I saw were entirely seperate though, not connected.

All the jellyfish, that is, except one. The freak jellyfish. The one jellyfish in the full tank that had not four rings, but three, in a perfect arrangement of third-order rotational symmetry.

So, questions:

1. Is this common? Is it a random developmental abnormality, or genetic?
2. What is the function of the rings? They look like some type of primative nervous system to me, or perhaps related to digestion.
3. Does having only three rather than four inpose any survival advantages or disadvantages?