A Spectacular and Well-Lit Critter
The bioluminescent octopus (also known as Stauroteuthis syrtensis) is mostly found in the North Atlantic Ocean, in depth between 500 m and 4,000 m, its favorite range being between 1,500 – 2,500 m. The animal is among the most beautiful and most fascinating creatures of the deep sea and certainly one that scientists still have plenty to find out about.
The marine animal is small, measuring only about 10 cm in length and about 4 cm in width, but its reddish-brown body is surrounded by eight long tentacles that make the critter look much larger. Each of the animal’s tentacles is lined with 60 adhesive suckers and 40 modified, light-emitting suckers.
The Bioluminescent Octopus Produces Light to React to Environmental Stimuli
The feature that distinguishes this octopus species is the presence of the 40 distinct photophores, glandular organs that line the tentacles and are capable of producing a characteristic blue-green light. Some specimens emit a continuous, faint light, while in others the photophores are active for only about 5 minutes following a stimulating event. Scientists believe that the light emitted has a double purpose: it drives away predators and it attracts food (the primary diet of the bioluminescent octopus consists of tiny crustaceans, efficiently lured by the light). For a while, scientists thought that the light emitted also has the role of sexual signaling, but the theory was dismissed after they discovered that light of the same type, color and intensity is emitted by both sexes, by fully-grown and immature specimen alike.