Distinctive Flashing Patterns Might Facilitate Fish Mating

A blue lanternfish (Tarletonbeania crenularis), which is found in the Eastern Pacific. The photophores, light-producing structures, can be seen as spots on the side and belly of the fish. ©Matthew P. Davis

A blue lanternfish (Tarletonbeania crenularis), which is found in the Eastern Pacific. The photophores, light-producing structures, can be seen as spots on the side and belly of the fish.

©Matthew P. Davis


Scientists have shown for the first time that deep-sea fishes that use bioluminescence for communication are diversifying into different species faster than other glowing fishes that use light for camouflage. The new research indicates that bioluminescence—a phenomenon in which animals generate visible light through a chemical reaction—could promote communication and mating in the open ocean, an environment with few barriers to reproduction.