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Scientists discover stunning red fluorescence in reef fish

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Scientists discover stunning red fluorescence in reef fish
Photo: DPA
16:45 CEST+02:00
Scientists at the University of Tübingen have discovered that reef fish communicate with a spectacular red fluorescence – a challenge to the previous notion that fish were unable to process the colour.

According to the paper, “Red fluorescence in reef fish: a novel signalling mechanism?” published on Tuesday by BMC Ecology, at least 32 varieties of reef fish have "pronounced red fluorescence under natural, daytime conditions at depths where downwelling red light is virtually absent.” Fluorescence was confirmed by "extensive spectrometry" in lab tests.

This lack of red light is what led scientists to believe that it was “irrelevant” to reef fish, but the Tübingen team believes they have discovered red luminescence is not only present in the fish, but used as a “private communication mechanism” within a certain species of fish.

Fluorescence patterns were most often associated with the fish's eyes, head and fins, and varied “substantially” between species, the team found.

“Our findings challenge the notion that red light is of no importance to marine fish, calling for a reassessment of its role in fish visual ecology in subsurface marine environments,” the paper states.

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