“Ocean “phosphorescence”, commonly seen at night when the water is disturbed, is largely due to the dinoflagellates; they occur ubiquitously in the oceans as planktonic forms, responding to mechanical stimulation when the water is disturbed by emitting brief bright light. Light emission may be seen in the wake of a large ship for some 20 miles. About 20% of marine species are bioluminescent and many are photosynthetic. “ Red tides” are transient blooms of individual dinoflagellate species. Phosphorescent bays (e.g., in Puerto Rico, Jamaica) are persistent blooms of this type.
Since dinoflagellates are stimulated to emit light when predators (e.g., crustaceans) are active, predators on the crustaceans might thereby be alerted to feed on crustaceans, resulting in a reduced predation on dinoflagellates generally. Predation on dinoflagellates may also be impeded more directly; the flash could startle or divert a predator, allowing that cell to escape predation. The response time to stimulation (msec) is certainly fast enough to have this effect.”
because a bunch of people have asked me questions about phosphoresence since i wrote about it and i really didn’t know much (so i researched it on the internet of course). i think this basically means that if there is a red tide in the area, you have a good chance of seeing phosphorescent micro-organisms since they are the same thing. red tides are thought to be on the increase due to climate change and human activity in lots of places so it seems as though these would be on the increase (and of course you do know that red tides mean – don’t eat the shellfish right)?