Bioluminescence in the Deep Sea

The deep sea: an abyssal world in the abscence of sunlight; a cold, unforgiving battlefield of evolutionary tactic and adaptive artillery. In this impenetrable stretch of blackness, the environment in itself is a selective pressure; only the able survive. Perhaps due to these intense conditions, many deep sea organisms have adapted a behavior that is as prevalent as it is versatile: bioluminescence.

In simple terms, bioluminescence is the ability of an organism to produce its own light independent of a source. The methods by which this is accomplished are varied, though most fall into one of two categories: symbiont dependent (passive) and independent (active). In the symbiont dependent group, organisms work in tandem with luminescent bacteria to achieve their glow; in the independent, they produce it themselves by means of a chemical reactionThe variation in biouminescent tactics is vast...but the sea, she is vaster! with the pigment Luciferin.

The uses for bioluminescence are many, and as selective pressures bear down on the deep sea ecosystem, something of an arms race for luminescent tactics has developed amongst its inhabitants. Through ever more complex adaptations, the immutable darkness of the deep sea has become a veritable fireworks display; a testament to the struggle for survival.

This website is meant to illuminate bioluminescence as a biological behavior, taking it through ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen's four questions of phylogeny, ontogeny, mechanism, and adaptive value.