Luminescent properties of fishes from nearshore California basins

Allen F. Mensinger, James F. Case

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Bioluminescence flash kinetics and quantum emissions of specimens of 10 species of fishes from the families Astronesthidae, Malacosteidae, Melanostomiatidae, Myctophidae, Stomiatidae and Sternoptychidae were determined. Fish were collected from the San Clemente and Santa Catalina basins of the Southern Californian Bight. Body photophores emitted long- lasting glows with peak photon fluxes to 3.0 x 1010 photons · s-1. Caudal luminescent tissues exhibited both discrete flashes and spontaneous trains up to 30 Hz with average flash duration from 43 to 79 ms and peak photon fluxes of 2.2 x 1012 photons · s-1. Orbital photophore displays persisted up to 1415 ms with a maximum emission rate of 1 Hz and a maximum photon flux of 7.5 x 1011 photons · s-1. The flash kinetics and quantum intensity of the oral light organs from Sternoptyx diaphana Hermann are quantified for the first time. The flash durations of myctophid caudal organs were significantly shorter compared with congeners from Hawaiian waters, indicating that regional environmental conditions may account for shorter flash duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-90
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 25 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the crews of the RV New Horizon and Point Sur and Dr. J. Childress and his studentsf or their superb assistancea nd T. Frank and P. Herring for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research (NOOO14-84-K-0314 and NOOO14-87-K-0314) to J.F. Case and a National Science Foundation grant (OCE 85000237) to J.J. Childress.


  • Animal behavior
  • Bioluminescence
  • Marine biology
  • Midwater
  • teleost


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