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Related Research and the 2013 Explore21 Solomon Islands Expedition

A report of widespread biofluorescence in the tree of life of fishes published in January 2014 identifyied more than 180 species that glow in a wide range of colors and patterns.

A report of widespread biofluorescence in the tree of life of fishes published in January 2014 identified more than 180 species that glow in a wide range of colors and patterns.

Courtesy J. Sparks and D. Gruber


In September 2013, the Museum launched a new scientific initiative, Explore21, which brings together new technologies and multi-disciplinary methods to field research and collections. The inaugural expedition, to the Solomon Islands, was led by Curator John Sparks and included Research Associate David Gruber, a marine biologist at Baruch College, and Vincent Pieribone, a neuroscientist at the Pierce Laboratory-Yale University.

The team looked for novel occurrences of bioluminescence and biofluorescence in fishes, corals, and other marine organisms using submersibles, custom-built underwater low-light cameras, novel collecting methods, and on-board genomic sequencing tools. Their work contributed to the first report of widespread biofluorescence, a phenomenon in which organisms absorb light, transform it, and eject it as a different color, in the tree of life of fishes.

Learn more about this study in the video below, and read more about Explore21 and related research here.


The Museum greatly acknowledges the Dalio Foundation for its generous support of the inaugural Explore21 expedition.

The Museum's Explore21 initiative is supported by the leadership contributions of Katheryn P. and Thomas L. Kempner, Jr., and Linda R. and William E. Macaulay.

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