Neon Animals: 180 New Species of Fluorescent Fish

Neon colors aren’t unnatural. Researchers have identified more than 180 species of fish with fluorescent coatings among all sorts of species, including eels, rays and sharks. So why on earth would nature engineer sea creatures to glow in vivid shades of green, red and orange?

Bioluminescence is much more common in other types of marine creatures like jellyfish, and when the research team set out to study it, they were focusing only on coral. But an eel swam in front of the camera, unexpectedly flashing a neon green glow.

Biofluorescent fish have their own species-specific patterns that researchers believe may not be visible to other types of fish. They can see the patterns of fish of their own species because they have yellow filters in their eyes, much like the ones on the cameras that enable the researchers to spot them.

This fluorescence may help the fish communicate and mate, while still keeping them safe against predators. While it’s not too surprising that a wide variety of organisms have this ability, the vast number of fish displaying the ability is pretty dazzling.

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