Bioluminescence lights up the oceans

The definition of bioluminescence “is easier than the pronunciation and spelling of the word: It is just visible light made by living animals,” says Edith Widder, president of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Fla.

The word may be easy to define, but the chemical process is still poorly understood. Bioluminescence has apparently evolved independently at least 40 times in species belonging to bioluminescence remains a poorly understood chemical process that appears to have evolved at least 40 times in species belonging to more than 700 genera. Widder notes in the journal Science that about 80 percent of those genera are found in the open ocean.