Strings of pearls Caribbean

Daniel Brumbaugh brumba at
Sat Jul 29 15:23:44 EDT 2000

Dear Ralph and others,

These animals are probably cypridinid ostracodes that emit 
bioluminescent puffs as they swim, in species-specific mating 
patterns.  They are resident in reef areas throughout the Caribbean, 
and light displays are inhibited near the full moon.  A number of 
scientists work on the systematists and behavior of the group, 
including Jim Morin (Cornell University), Anne Cohen (Bodega Bay, 
Calif.), and Elizabeth Torres (Cal. State Univ. Los Angeles).  A 
review exists: J. G. Morin and A. C. Cohen.  1991. Bioluminescent 
displays, courtship, and reproduction in ostracodes.  In: R.T. Bauer 
and J.W. Martin (eds.), Crustacean Sexual Biology, Columbia 
University Press, NY.

Dan Brumbaugh

>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 
>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.
>Ralph Butcher
>ralphb40 at
>Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at


Dan Brumbaugh, Ph.D.
American Museum of Natural History / Biodiversity
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY  10024-5192

off: (212) 496-3494
fax: (212) 769-5277
brumba at

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