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Light Production by the Arm Tips of the Deep-Sea Cephalopod Vampyroteuthis infernalis

Bruce H. Robison, Kim R. Reisenbichler, James C. Hunt and Steven H. D. Haddock
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 205, No. 2 (Oct., 2003), pp. 102-109
DOI: 10.2307/1543231
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1543231
Page Count: 8
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Light Production by the Arm Tips of the Deep-Sea Cephalopod Vampyroteuthis infernalis
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Abstract

The archaic, deep-sea cephalopod Vampyroteuthis infernalis occurs in dark, oxygen-poor waters below 600 m off Monterey Bay, California. Living specimens, collected gently with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and quickly transported to a laboratory ashore, have revealed two hitherto undescribed means of bioluminescent expression for the species. In the first, light is produced by a new type of organ located at the tips of all eight arms. In the second, a viscous fluid containing microscopic luminous particles is released from the arm tips to form a glowing cloud around the animal. Both modes of light production are apparently linked to anti-predation strategies. Use of the tip-lights is readily educed by contact stimuli, while fluid expulsion has a much higher triggering threshold. Coelenterazine and luciferase are the chemical precursors of light production. This paper presents observations on the structure and operation of the arm-tip light organs, the character of the luminous cloud, and how the light they produce is incorporated into behavioral patterns.

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