Strings of pearls Caribbean

Mikhail Matz matz at
Sat Jul 29 08:41:54 EDT 2000

 Hello Ralph,
 your description is fascinating!
 my guess is ostracode crustacean Vargula or its relative. Since I'm a molecular
biologist, not zoologist, I can say only that their luciferase (the enzyme which
produces light) is known, it is cloned, sequenced and already applied to some
biotechology tasks as a detection tool. The low-molecular substrate for the
enzyme (luciferine) is also characterized. To me, it's a closed file.

Mike Matz

ralph butcher wrote:

> Dear Readers
> I am presently working in the Caribbean (Roatan, Honduras).
> Often when we go on night dives we switch our torches off for a time. After
> our eyes have adjusted we are able to see many lines of phosphorescing dots
> of light moving from the top to the bottom of the water column. Only four
> dots are lit at any one time, the "oldest" dot at the top fading just as a
> new one appears at the bottom.
> I have caught some of theses critters and found them (looking through a
> dissection microscope) to be a small shrimp encased in a clear shell which
> hinges at the top and allows them to swim. They also have a small phosphores
> producing organ under their rostrum. Size of organism is a full stop.
> Has anyone else seen these and know their Scientific name, their life cycles
> and are they present over the reef all the time. We see them best a good
> week after a full moon (dark).
> Any info would be appreciated.
> Regards
> Ralph Butcher
> ralphb40 at
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