The Light Show of the Firefly Squid
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The Light Show of the Firefly Squid

A light show occurs along the shallow water of Toyama Bay in Japan every March through the month of June. The light show isn't created by residents, but by hundreds of firefly squid who have washed up to the shallower areas of the bay by ocean currents. The squid put on a spectacular display of cobalt blue light patterns and steady streams of light to entice mates, prey and communicate with each other.

Walking along the shores of Toyama Bay in Japan, cobalt blue lights appear in the night during the months of March through June.  Visitors and residents alike are in for a treat, as portions of the lights flicker in patterns, while some stay lit.  This isn’t a light show put on by people of the area, but a sea creature known as the firefly squid. 

The Firefly Squid traditionally grows to a length of about three inches, but can light up the beach along Toyama Bay in Japan.  The glowing blue creature houses organs known as photophores.  These photophores create the deep blue lighting features of the aquatic animal.  

The photophores are large and are located mostly on the ends of their tentacles and around the eyes.  There are thousands of the minute photophores that are housed throughout the body of the squid.  

Toyama Bay lies in the central portion of the Japan Sea.  The firefly squid cover the bay area, lighting up beaches and shallow water areas.  The squid usually reside over a thousand feet underwater, at the 1,200 foot mark or below.  They are pushed to the surface and make an appearance along the bay shoreline by ocean currents between March through June.  The squid are usually caught in fishing nets during this time by fishermen of the region.  Firefly squid are known as a delicacy in Japan. 

The firefly squid spawn during this time.  The group consists of millions of squid who fertilize and drop their eggs within the bay waters.  As the squid come ashore, a huge light display is readily available for tourists.  Other creatures of the sea and sea birds have a feast on the squid that don’t make it through the period of time they are there.  

Sightseeing boats leave from the Namerikawa fishing port long before daybreak.  The boats sit in the bay to allow the tourists a view of the beautiful cobalt blue waters that are lit up by the squid.  Lights emanating from the squid normally put on quite a show – lighting up all together or they alternate, creating a pattern.  

The lightshow is a way the squid can communicate with its mates or even with enemies.  Some believe it could be a method of confusing predators, by throwing off the actual size and shape of their bodies.  Another theory is the squid uses the light to attract their prey.  As the squid flashes their light off and on, smaller fish are drawn closer to them. 

The firefly squid is known as an active predator.  The blue lights are used to pull in a mate, while the flashing patterns are often seen as a way to attract the next meal.  The squid move up to the surface of the water at night to capture their prey but spend most of their time at the depth where they normally thrive.

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Comments (2)

Very interesting. I'd be out there watching them.

I know I would be as well.  They look beautiful!