To truly appreciate the wondrous beauty of life in the ocean, you have to see it at night. When the sun sets, it comes to life in a dazzling display of colors and lights that rivals the best fireworks shows.
An astonishing variety of species use bioluminescence (the natural production of visible light through a chemical reaction) to catch food, hook up with mates, or scare off intruders. In this gallery, we'll look at some of the wildest, and most clever, uses of light at sea.
Being without adhesive suckers would seem to put you at a major disadvantage if you're an octopus, but the deep-sea octopus Stauroteuthis syrtensis manages just fine. In the place of the usual suckers are rows of flashing photophores, which the octopus cannily uses to lure its prey to certain death or to startle intruders.
Stauroteuthis feeds on small crustaceans that are attracted to light. Once the unsuspecting critter is close, the octopus grabs it and traps it within a mucus web produced by glands on its arms. In the first study (pdf) to document Stauroteuthis' bioluminescence, Duke University's Sonke Johnsen and colleagues observed that, when disturbed, the octopus splayed out its arms and exposed all its flashing photophores in an attempt to scare off unwanted guests.