Firefly squid!

Man, is this something I wish I was around to see: The annual ascendance of the bioluminescent Firefly Squid of Toyama Bay. Apparently the squid — which are normally rather reclusive — mass near the surface from March to June for their spawning season. According to a Toyama web site, the function of the squid’s biochemisty is unknown:

Glowing like blue-green gems, female firefly squid, approximately seven centimeters in length, shed light from around a thousand tiny light-producing organs located in the skin at the ends of their tentacles, around their eyes, and on their bodies (their mantles). It is speculated that this phosphorescence disguises the animal’s outline, or perhaps serves to intimidate or confuse potential predators. Other hypotheses for this phenomenon include the theory that the light attracts prey, or alternatively that it serves to distinguish the sexes.

Imagine a tank of those things in your apartment at night!

(Thanks to El Rey for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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