Skip to main content
Spectral Composition of Bioluminescence of Epipelagic Organisms from the Sargasso Sea
Marine Biology
  • Michael I. Latz, University of California - Santa Barbara
  • Tamara M. Frank, University of California - Santa Barbara
  • James F. Case, University of California - Santa Barbara
Document Type
Publication Date
The spectral characteristics of single identified epipelagic sources of bioluminescence from the western Sargasso Sea were measured with an optical multichannet analyzer (OMA) system during the April, 1985, Biowatt cruise. The emission spectra of specimens representing 45 species from 8 phyla were measured. Peak bioluminescence emissions typically occurred between 440 and 500 nm, in the blue region of the visible spectrum. Three exceptions involved emission in the green, yellow, and red spectral regions. Intraspecific variability in spectra was noted in several species. One shrimp species exhibited two modes of light emission, each with different emission spectra. Other cases involved dynamic color shifts of 10 to 14 nm; the source of the spectral variability is unknown, but may involve optical filtering or differences in the color of luminescence from multiple sites of light emission. Measurements from independent samples of unsorted plankton revealed different spectral distributions. This suggests that the spectral emissions of bioluminescence in the upper water column will vary, based on species assemblage.

©Springer-Verlag 1988

Additional Comments
Office of Naval Research grant #: N00014-84-K-0314; Department of Defense NORDA contract #: N00014-84-C-0604
Citation Information
Michael I. Latz, Tamara M. Frank and James F. Case. "Spectral Composition of Bioluminescence of Epipelagic Organisms from the Sargasso Sea" Marine Biology Vol. 98 Iss. 3 (1988) p. 441 - 446 ISSN: 0225-3162
Available at: