The Glowing Sea
Coronate Deep Sea Jelly
© Edie Widder HBOI
On land, it can be seen as the soft yellow-green flash of fireflies. On the darkening sea, it can be found as the bright-blue glow of dinoflagellates surrounding a nighttime swimmer. These living lights are not produced by electricity or heat or even magic, though they may look magical. These lights are the result of chemical reactions. They are examples of bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence means "living light." Animals that can produce light are called bioluminescent. Bioluminescence comes in different colors, from violet through red. The dominant color on land is green because it reflects best against green plants. The most common bioluminescent color in the ocean is blue. This color transmits best through seawater, which can scatter or absorb light.