Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany


Some dinoflagellates glow in the dark at night! Next time you swim in the ocean at night, look for small, blue, glowing organisms bouncing off your waving arms. Those are dinoflagellates! This picture is not actually a glowing dinoflagellate. It is a phase contrast picture of a dinoflagellate of the genus Ceratium. Divers out for a night dive can sometimes see each other just by the ghostly glowing outline of the bioluminescent phytoplankton. Bioluminescent dinoflagellates have even made boats visible against the darkness!


Here are some places to go if you want to order bioluminescent cultures for your shelf. Bring it out for houseguests. Always an ice breaker. Actually, dinoflagellate cultures, when cared for properly, can last weeks, or even months!
Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton (CCMP)

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Copyright Josh Rapport 1996

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009