The world ocean is teeming with mystical glowing creatures called bioluminescence creatures that glow in the deepest depths of the oceans and light up the darkest part of the oceans. Many ocean creatures use bioluminescence to catch prey or protect themselves from predators and use it to attract mates.

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by living organisms. It occurs through a chemical reaction that produces light energy within an organism’s body. Bioluminescent creatures have a specific chemical called luciferin, and when it reacts with oxygen, it produces light.

Around 76% of ocean animals are bioluminescent. Most bioluminescence creatures produce blue-green light, a color that transmits best in ocean water.

Anglerfish

Why they use bioluminescence: To catch a prey

Where it can be found: Deep Atlantic and Antarctic oceans

The Angler fish has a glowing lure on its forehead
The Angler fish has a glowing lure on its forehead

Angler fish range in size from 2.8 centimeters for males and 29 centimeters for females. They live at a depth of 6,600 feet in a deep ocean with complete darkness, where no light can penetrate. They have big mouths and sharp teeth that can swallow prey twice their size. Only female Angler fish exhibit bioluminescence by glowing whitish-blue lures dangling on their forehead and use this bioluminescence to attract prey toward them.

Glowing Lantern Fish

Why they use bioluminescence: To protect themself from predators

Where it can be found: All oceans of the world, especially the Red sea

The Lantern fish has a glowing belly and face
The Lantern fish has a glowing belly and face

Credit: Museo de Ciencias Naturales Senckenberg

Lantern fish range in size from 2 to 30 cm in length. They live at a depth of 1,200 to 2,600 feet in a twilight zone in the ocean. They are slim, with a large round head and large eyes. They have light-producing organs on their bellies called photophores, through which they exhibit bioluminescence by glowing blue to confuse predators who attack from below.

Glowing Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Why they use bioluminescence: To protect themself from predators

Where it can be found: Pacific oceans, especially the Red sea

Hawaiian bobtail squid has a glowing mantle
Hawaiian bobtail squid has a glowing mantle

Credit: David Slate

Hawaiian bobtail squid mantle ranges up to 3.5 cm in length. They live on the shallow coast of Hawaiian Island at a depth of 0.06-0.09 feet. They have big brains compared to their body size and have mottled in color. They have bioluminescence bacteria on the underside of their body, thus producing bioluminescence by glowing the same shade of light illuminating at water above, thus, allowing the squid to hide from the predators who attack from below.

Scaly Dragonfish

Why they use bioluminescence: To attract prey

Where it can be found: Australia

Scaly Dragonfish has a glowing tip at its chin
Scaly Dragonfish has a glowing tip at its chin

Credit: David Shale

Scaly dragonfish can grow up to 32 cm long. They live at a depth of 600–4,200 feet. They have big mouths and sharp, curving teeth. They have photophores on the sides of their bodies and a long rod with white glowing tips at their chin. They employ this bioluminescence to attract their prey.

Comb Jelly

Why they use bioluminescence: To protect themself from predators

Where it can be found: All of the world’s ocean

Comb jelly has a blue rainbow glowing plates
Comb jelly has a blue rainbow glowing plates

Comb jelly varies in size depending on the species, but they can reach a maximum length of 12.7 cm. They live at a depth of 23,000 feet. They have oval-shaped, transparent bodies with eight rows of comb-like plates with infused cilia on them. They have protocytes under their cilia, and when they move, the comb-like plates diffract light to produce a shimmering bluish rainbow effect. They use bioluminescence to deceive their predators.

Firefly Squid

Why they use bioluminescence: To protect themselves from predators, communication, and attract their prey

Where it can be found: Coastline of Japan

Firefly squid has a neon-light body
Firefly squid has a neon-light body

Credit: E. Widder, ORCA

Firefly squid is small and is 7 cm long. They live at a depth of 600-12,000 feet. They have eight arms and two tentacles, each with a sucker and hooks. They have photophores on their head, arms, mantle, and at the end of tentacles. These photophores produce bioluminescence and make firefly squid look like they have neon lights all over their body. They use bioluminescence to protect themselves from predators, communication and attract their prey.

Deep Sea Shrimps

Why they use bioluminescence: To protect themselves from predators

Where it can be found: The Gulf of Mexico, the North Atlantic Ocean, Spain, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan

Deep sea shrimp spew blue glowing matter
Deep sea shrimp spew blue color-glowing matter

Credit: Edith Widder

Deep sea shrimp are small and vary from 12-16 cm long. They live at a depth of 30,000 feet. They have semi-transparent cylindrical bodies, ten legs, and two sets of antennae. The shrimp exhibit bioluminescence in two ways, by spewing blue secretions from their mouths to use as a defense against predators and by emitting light from their body, eyes, limbs, and abdomen.

Green Bomber Worm

Why they use bioluminescent: To protect themselves from predators

Where it can be found: Monterey Bay, California

The green bomber worm has a bioluminescent fluid sac behind their head
The green bomber worm has a bioluminescent fluid sac behind their head

Credit: Casey Dunn

Green bomber worms are small and 2.5 cm long. They live at a depth of 6,000–12,000 feet. They have transparent bodies except for the gut area and have six to eight sets of bioluminescent fluid sacs behind their heads. The worms exhibit bioluminescence by using green bombs as a defense against predators. The green bioluminescence bombs glow for up to a few seconds before fading slowly.

FAQs

Which is the longest bioluminescent creature?

The scaly dragonfish is the longest bioluminescent creature, with a length of 32 centimeters.

Which creature exhibits the most beautiful bioluminescence?

Comb jelly because of its rainbow color light, and firefly squid with its hollow blue light shadow emits the most beautiful bioluminescence.

Does Comb jelly sting like jellyfish?

No, although they look like jellyfish, comb jelly doesn’t sting. They are genetically different and not related to jellyfish.

What is the most common color emitted by bioluminescence creatures?

Most bioluminescence organism produces blue-green light, a color that transmits best in ocean water. Other than that, yellow and red are the rear lights emitted by a few creatures.