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How Flashlight Fish Swim Together in the Dark

How Flashlight Fish Swim Together in the Dark

The fish have organs filled with glowing bacteria that they use to flash.

How Flashlight Fish Swim Together in the Dark

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 14:45

Sofie Bates, Contributor

(Inside Science) -- A quarter of fish species swim in groups called schools. This behavior is rare at night – but flashlight fish school even in the dark. The fish use special organs filled with bioluminescent bacteria to make create flashes of light. Now, researchers understand how they use this ability to swim together in the dark.

David Gruber, a marine biologist of City University in New York, and his colleagues took a submarine off the coast of the Solomon Islands to see these flashlight fish schooling at night. Then, they made computer models based on the behavior they saw. Their models showed that only 5% of the simulated fish had to be flashning for the group to stay together. And just a few motivated fish could make the entire school change direction. 

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Sofie Bates is a science journalist and videographer based in Washington D.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in genetics from the UC Davis and a master’s in science communication from UC Santa Cruz. When she’s not reporting neat science research, she likes to try new recipes, read science fiction novels, and hike with her camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @sciencesofie